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Grandkids: First Day For Both

For the first day of pre-k for my grandson and daycare for his sister, their mother posed them next to a chalk board that included “what you want to be when you grow up.” My grandson spoke for himself: “engineer,” (like his dad), but my daughter didn’t know what to say on the 14-month-old’s board. Her brother suggested “writer,” and my daughter chose the similar word “author.” At age 14 months, our granddaughter didn’t have much to say about it


There is a Computer Chronicles story I have been dining out on for decades, especially any time I am being micced up for a TV appearance. My voice is loud and booming. During a sound check, a Chronicles sound engineer once said, "Paul, the reason you wear a mic is so that you don't have to speak directly to the people at home. Could you bring it down a little?"

Jealous of Mick LaSalle

If I learned nothing else in debate, I learned it was a cheap shot to start with a definition, so here is the definition of inductive reasoning:

“Inductive reasoning aims at developing a theory while deductive reasoning aims at testing an existing theory.” Seems simple, right? Inductive reasoning allows you to induce the existence of forest when you see hundreds of trees. I can look at a thousand trees and never induce the existence of a forest.

Curse you inductive reasoning my old nemesis. I have never been successful at inducing. It’s been a weakness since college. It was particularly difficult during my years as a technology journalist. You were supposed to attend a trade show with hundreds of booths, then write a story about the trend that tied them together. I was worse at this than my colleagues and competitors. So I sniffed around the consultants and trade show staff until someone offered me a plausible theory to which the facts could be twisted. 

I thought of this as I read a column by Mick La Salle of the San Francisco Chronicle. He and I both have the same information available; the number of women starring in Hollywood movies. Of course, he had precise numbers, since that is an obsession of his, whereas I had only an impression, but he was able to find an overall theory about the increasing number of starring roles for women, through the process of inductive reasoning, where all I saw was a more women in films.

That I know of, there is no training course or seminar to improve your inductive reasoning,  and, at 70, I don’t expect much call for it. Still… I don’t have a lot of writing weaknesses, so this one irks me. No writers’ block, ever. As many words as you want. I write better than anyone who writes faster and faster than anyone who writes better. My grammar is excellent thanks to my English teacher mother. My spelling is . adequate; my typing speed is good enough (for a guy who hunts and pecks. Real typists weep when they watch me type). I write good newspaper-style stories and acceptable magazine-style stories.

Happy Birthday to Me

The big 71 was Sunday. Not evenly divisible by 5, but a prime number! I am grateful to have outlived both my grandfathers.  The fact that I am still above room temperature is a tribute to my genetics and socioeconomic class, as well as to the pharmaceutical and cardiac device industries. I’ll take it any way I can get it. The longer I live, the more loving kindness I can spread.My gratitude practice, meditation practice and newly found devotion to loving kindness help, as does love song writing/singing and production.

9/11 and Oil

Reader Stephen Coquet is not the first to point this out:


After the first shock, when we were all one, when the whole free world was one with us, I was optimistic. I thought we might have as much as three weeks before politicians started making political hay out of it. We didn't even get three days. Soon GWB was beating the war drums for war with Iraq, even though the attack came from nineteen Saudis, many with close ties to the Saudi royal family. But we went to war with Iraq. Because, are you really going to do that to people who have dined at your table, and whose tables you have dined at? And all that oil!


Which made me want to slightly modify a quote by Upton Sinclair:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his (oil) depends on his not understanding it.”

After 143 years, Possibly The End Of The Tech

[Note to regular linear readers: You may have already noticed the version of this item placed between the end of the September 4 column and the start of the August 28 column. I needed to post it as background for a meeting. So, if you’re the kind of person who flies off the end of the runway, you can skip this one.]

The Tech is MIT’s student newspaper, offering continuous news service since 1881 (hence the slogan that starts my column every week). In 1973-74 I was editor-in-chief of Vol. 93; I also helped pay for, arrange and publicize the Centennial Celebration in1981. I fear there will not be a bicentennial in 2081 or maybe even a newspaper this year. The headlines: drenched and depowered servers. Very little staff in the Covid aftermath. Expenses exceed revenue, Read more about The Tech’s Existential Opportunity.