Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A list of 16 not-so-memorable quotations


Yesterday’s XKCD web comic by Randall Munroe was titled Memorable Quotes. One of his 16 is illustrated above. Elsewhere there also is an explanation. Three other quotes are:

“Oooh, look at me, I looked up a quote!”

“I don’t do a lot of public speaking, so I looked up a memorable quote to start my speech, and this is what I found. OK, you’re staring at me. Blankly but this whole thing is a quote. I know that sounds confusing, but…you know what, never mind.”

“This quote will be the only part of this presentation you remember.”

The July 2016 issue of Toastmaster magazine had a more serious article by John Zimmer on The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Quotes.

The Pennsylvania winter sunset image by Andrew Crouthamel came from Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A claim about fear of using public bathrooms that probably is crap

At the Odyssey web site, I found a strange article by Matt Neuenschwander titled The Notable Bathrooms of Kennesaw State University (and subtitled Finding solitude to make a solid). His first sentence claims:  

“Probably the only phobia more common than the fear of public speaking is the fear of using public bathrooms.”

Matt doesn’t say where he found that very curious ranking of fears. It disagrees with results from three magazine articles about the definitive U. S. mental health series collectively known as the National Comorbidity Survey.

A 1998 article about the original National Comorbidity Survey (NCS) found that 30.2% of feared public speaking while only 6.6% feared using a toilet away from home. I blogged about that one in a July 22,2011 post titled Putting the fears puzzle pieces together: social and specific fears in the National Comorbidity Survey.  

A 2008 article about the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication (NCS-R) found that 21.2% of U.S. adults feared public speaking/performance (really stage fright) while only 5.7% feared using public bathroom. I blogged about that one in an October 11, 2011 post titled What’s the difference between a fear and a phobia?

A 2011 article about the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A) found that 35.8% feared performing for audience, 24.9% feared speaking in class, and 10.3% feared using public bathroom. I blogged about that one in a June 11, 2012 post titled What social situations scare American adolescents, and what are their top 20 fears?

That Odyssey web article has a date of December 22, 2015, but on Google it only showed up in the last few days.

The bathroom signs image was adapted from one by Hugh D’Andrade at Wikimedia Commons.   

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Insights West survey on Canadian fears from Halloween of 2017

Surveys about fears commonly get reported just before Halloween. One excellent survey on Canadians done by Insights West was reported on October 24, 2017 in an article unfortunately just titled Across Canada, Alberta is ‘Dream Province’ for Halloween Trick-or-Treaters. They surveyed 1,001 adults online (on October 18 to 22) about twenty-seven fears of things or situations, which were:

Being alone
Being the victim of a crime
Confined Spaces
Flying (Airplane/Helicopter)
Needles/Getting shots
Nuclear war
Open spaces
Open water (Ferry/Boat/
Public speaking

They were asked how much they feared each of them:

Very afraid

Somewhat afraid

Not too afraid

Not afraid at all

Not sure

The article reported the sum of percentages for Very afraid and Somewhat afraid. As shown above in a bar chart, the five most common fears were Terrorism 58%, Nuclear war 53%, Snakes and Heights both 44%, Being the victim of a crime 41%, and Public speaking 39%. (The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1%).

We could get even higher results by reporting the Grand sum of percentages for Very afraid, Somewhat afraid, and Not too afraid. As shown above in another bar chart, the five most common fears now were Terrorism 82%, Nuclear war 81%, Being the victim of a crime 77%, Heights 72%, and both Snakes and Public speaking at 69%.

Detailed results were presented in a nine-page .pdf file. Those details include results subdivided by gender (female or male), age (18-34, 35-54, 55+) and region (Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan/Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia). I will only discuss the gender results.

As shown above in a bar chart, for females the five most common fears were Terrorism 64%, Nuclear war 57%, Snakes 50%, Being the victim of a crime 49%, and Public speaking 48%, and Heights 47%. A second bar chart shows that for males the five most common fears were Terrorism 50%, Nuclear war 49%, Heights 39%, Death and Snakes both 37%, Snakes 50%, and Being the victim of a crime 32%. (Water/drowning was sixth 30% and Public speaking was seventh 29%. A third bar chart shows all the differences (female minus male). For 23 of 27 fears the percentage was higher for females with the largest difference being for spiders – 42% versus 22%, a difference of 20%. Public speaking was second largest – 48% versus 29%, a difference of 19%. (Here the margin of error is larger +- 4.4%).

Another series of bar charts show the results for those four different levels of fear. For Very Afraid the five most common fears were Nuclear war 26%, Terrorism 25%, Snakes 21%, Heights 20%, and Public speaking 15%.

For Somewhat Afraid the five most common fears were Terrorism 33%, Nuclear war and Being the victim of a crime 27%, Death 25%, Heights and Public speaking 24%, and Snakes 23%.

For Not Too Afraid the five most common fears were Strangers 38%, Being the victim of a crime 36%, Germs 33%, Insects 32%, and a three-way tie between Death, Darkness, and Public speaking - all at 30%.

For Not Afraid At All the five most common fears were Birds 77%, Open spaces 76%, Fish 74%, Clowns 71%, and Dogs 65%. Conversely for Not Afraid At All the five least common fears were Terrorism and Nuclear war 15%, Being the victim of a crime 19%, Heights 26%, Public speaking 28%, and a tie between Death and Snakes - both 29%.

The survey also asked how much Canadians believed or disbelieved in six things. For Believe Completely plus Believe Somewhat the percentages were (as shown in yet another bar chart): 65% for That there is some form of life after death, 57% for Angels, 47% both for Ghosts (of any kind) and Haunted places, 43% for Demonic spirits, 41% for The Devil (or Satan), and just 7% for Zombies.

Yet another series of questions asked how you dealt with these fears in the past. As shown above in a chart, the percentages were: 45% for None of these, 30% for Asked another person to get rid of an insect/bug/spider, 23% for Altered your plans to avoid a thing or situation, 17% for Experienced a panic attack, 14% for Came close to losing it in front of others, 12% for Used stairs instead of an elevator to avoid being in a confined space.    

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What we should call older people, acronyms for their organizations, and their sounds

On January 2, 2018 I blogged about how I am a seasoned citizen, not a senior citizen. Then I discussed that post using the title What should we call older people? at LinkedIn on both the Official Toastmasters International Members Group and the Official Toastmasters International Group. More than a half-dozen comments came in from each group. Some were serious, others facetious or off-topic.

One comment was to call older people what they prefer. I looked around and found two places with almost the same answer. Back on July 8, 2014 there was an article by Ina Jaffe titled NPR survey reveals despised and acceptable terms for aging. She reported that only 43% liked ‘older adult,’ while about a third (33%) liked ‘senior,’ but only 12% liked ‘senior citizen.’ So, the majority didn’t like anything! There is a 2005 8th edition of the AARP Thesaurus of Aging Terminology,  which can be downloaded as a 272-page .pdf file. In their section on Relational Terms there are no entries under Coots, Elders, Geezers, Retirees, Sages, Seasoned Citizens or Senior Citizens. Under Elderly (on page 44) it says to USE Older Adults.

There also was a Dutch magazine article in 2006 by Bert Weijters and Maggie Geuens from Ghent University on Evaluation of age-related labels by senior citizens in Psychology & Marketing magazine whose abstract is here. An earlier full-text working paper version is here. They did a postal survey of 4800 Belgians, ages 40 to 80 but only received 684 responses. Participants were asked to rank five labels on a Likert scale where 1 was negative, 3 was neutral, and 5 was positive. As shown above in a bar chart, 50+ was 3.60, Senior was 3.51, Retired was 3.34, Third Age was 2.66, and Elderly was 2.61. 

Another commenter said he would avoid seasoned citizen, and then complained off-topic that the first ingredient in too many seasonings is salt. But my post had shown a bottle of red pepper flakes –with no salt whatever. Several commenters scolded me for using ANY label, and unrealistically said to only call a person by their name (since they each are unique as a snowflake).

A Canadian commenter said that anyone over 55 can be called a Senior, and further distinguished that 55 to 65 is a Young Senior, 65 to 85 is Senior, and 85+ is Elderly Senior. Page xxii of the AARP Thesaurus of Aging Terminology had very different set of age ranges: Middle Aged is 40 to 59, Young Old is 60 to 74, and Old Old is 75 to 100+. She also mentioned senior discounts.

One way to get lots of senior discounts is to join a group (once you have reached age 50). In the US there are AARP and AMAC, and in Canada there is CARP. AARP was founded in 1958 as the American Association of Retired Persons, and went to just using the acronym in 1999:

in recognition of the fact that many members continue to work full or part time.

AMAC started in 2007 and is the Association of Mature American Citizens. CARP says it is Canada’s largest advocacy association for older Canadians and, of course, formerly was the Canadian Association for Retired Persons.

Try pronouncing these acronyms, and things get funny. AARP sounds like the mealtime noise made by a hungry seal (arp or ahrp). CARP is a both a noun referring to a freshwater fish, and a verb meaning to complain about unimportant matters.   

And AMAC sounds like A Mac, which confusingly would refer to a family of Macintosh computers (iMac, MacBook, Mac Mini, Mac Pro) from Apple.

On page 126 of his novel, Lisey’s Story, Stephen King said:

“What’s the old saying? ‘Call me anything you want, just don’t call me late to dinner.’ “

Paul Cezanne’s painting of a man with crossed arms came from Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Celebrating 1500 blog posts

This blog just reached the milestone of 1,500 posts, and over 1,242,000 page views. (It had reached 1,000 posts back on December 1, 2014). What posts recently were popular? The Top Five for last month (and week) were:

Not quite my name (December 9, 2017)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

I am a seasoned citizen, not a senior citizen

At her Speechwriter-Ghostwriter blog on December 31, 2017 there was another silly article by Jane Genova titled The Language of Aging – struggling how we/others should refer to ourselves. She claimed no one wants to be classified as old but:

“Yet there are no alternatives which aren’t loaded down with rhetorical problems.”

Jane based that silly statement on an article from December 29, 2017 in the Washington Post by Laura L. Carstensen titled In search of a word that won’t offend ‘old’ people. Laura said:

“Alternative terms range from distant but respectful to outright patronizing. None of them are appealing to old people. The most widely used are ‘senior citizens,’ ‘retirees,’ ‘the elderly’ and ‘elders.’ Then there are the derogatory terms, such as ‘geezers’ and ‘coots,’ mostly whispered behind closed doors. And there are terms such as ‘sages,’ which frankly go too far in the opposite direction, as plenty of old people are a far cry from wise.”

Clearly neither Laura nor Jane had looked very far or very deeply. And Jane even suggested there should be a contest to come up with a new term! There are other more derogatory terms like the gassy "old farts" and the even worse Yiddish solids "alte kokkers." 

But we don’t need a new term, since “seasoned citizen” is reasonable and has been out there being used for a considerable time. For example, on July 30, 2017 in The Inquirer (Philly.com) Stacy Burling had an article titled ‘Seasoned?’ ‘Lucky?’ Readers join in the debate over what to call older people.

How long has that phrase been around? A decade ago on July 12, 2007 Rush Limbaugh used it in a column titled Seasoned Citizen gets advice on writing book And it appeared in an article by William Ecenbarger on December 22, 2004 in the Christian Science Monitor titled 'Senior citizen' is a euphemism that just doesn't fit. Back in 1984 Mary Lewis Coakley used it as the subtitle for her book, How to Live Life to the Fullest: A handbook for seasoned citizens. And further back in the May 1979 issue of The Rotarian a letter to the editor on page 50 by Wilferd A. Peterson said:

“The other day a friend who is also against the ‘senior citizen’ label called on us. She said she had either invented or run across a title she liked much better. I don’t know who originated it, but I like it. Her contribution was ‘seasoned citizen.’ That suggests a superior person, someone who has been through all the seasons of living, spring, summer, fall, and winter. ‘Senior’ means that someone has attained the honor or a title simply because of his age; it fails to suggest on-going, vital ability as ‘seasoned citizen’ does.”

Another recent article by Adrienne Kavelle on March 29, 2017 in the Somers, NY News (TAP into Somers) titled The ‘Seasoned Citizen’ explained it this way: 

Why ‘Seasoned Citizen’? Think about it—seasoning brings out the best in everything. Aged or seasoned wine; seasoned wood; seasoned food. Seasoning adds more flavor, more zest. To be seasoned is to become more experienced, have more time invested in living and sometimes, even if only by osmosis, learn to appreciate the wonders of the universe; to be saturated with life. That is why ‘Seasoned Citizen’ as opposed to any other title.

A Seasoned Citizen is someone who has lived through events younger people will never know. Someone who has weathered loss and change and should be revered, and not just relegated to the back seat of the car or a 10 percent discount. A Seasoned Citizen has borne the trials of living and has emerged a winner!”

The image shows a bottle of red pepper flakes.

Near the end of her article Laura L. Carstensen mentioned another better term from gardening:

“Last spring, I met Maureen Conners, a fascinating woman who works in fashion technology, an emerging longevity industry (that is, a business providing the needs of older people, including education, travel and entertainment). She uses the word ‘perennials’ to refer to older customers.

Upon first hearing this term, I was startled. The symbolism it connotes is perfect. For one, ‘perennials’ makes clear that we’re still here, blossoming again and again. It also suggests a new model of life in which people engage and take breaks, making new starts repeatedly. Perennials aren’t guaranteed to blossom year after year, but given proper conditions, good soil and nutrients, they can go on for decades. It’s aspirational.”

Stacy Burling’s article also pointed out that we could get more specific:

“Here’s what Bonnie Dalzell, who turned 80 this year, suggested: ‘Refer to those in their 70s as septuagenarians, those in their 80s, octogenarians, those in their 90s, nonagenarians, those who reach 100 or more, centenarians. Those in their 60s will love their ‘label’ – sexagenarians!’  True that, but, selfishly, I don’t want to have to spell septuagenarian more than once a year.”

The table shown above lists all the names for The Genarians by decades from a February 2, 2011 article at The Writer’s Workshop.

For more, see the January 10th blog post titled What we should call older people, acronyms for their organizations, and their sounds.  

Monday, January 1, 2018

In 2018 only you can prevent bad presentations

Once again at the New Year it is time to resolve to make good rather than bad presentations. You can prevent producing a bad presentation by doing a better job of planning to tell a coherent story, illustrating with useful graphics, and rehearsing sufficiently.

This is the fourth in my series of illustrations continuing those from 2015, 2016, and 2017. The finger pointing at you came from Wikimedia Commons. The image of Theodore Roosevelt from around 1913 was adapted from one at the Library of Congress. The finger pointing lady and pointing hat man are from Openclipart.