The Epistemist

…on the knowledge journey

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Political economy in a nutshell

November 21st, 2008 · humor

FEUDALISM: You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.

PURE SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. You have to take care of all of the cows. The government gives you as much milk as you need.

BUREAUCRATIC SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and put them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and eggs as the regulations say you need.

FASCISM: You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them and sells you the milk.

PURE COMMUNISM: You have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.

RUSSIAN COMMUNISM: You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.

CAMBODIAN COMMUNISM: You have two cows. The government takes both of them and shoots you.

DICTATORSHIP: You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you.

PURE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the milk.

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.

BUREAUCRACY: You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. Then it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

PURE ANARCHY: You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbors try to take the cows and kill you.

LIBERTARIAN/ANARCHO-CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

SURREALISM: You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

From (Original source unknown . . . this version expanded and Illuminated by SJ.)

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KA702: Collaborative Problem-Solving and the Zone of Proximal Development

September 30th, 2008 · dissertation, psychology

My presentation for the KA702: Collaborative Problem-Solving and the Zone of Proximal Development. Working on this paper helped me zero in on the core research interest for my dissertation: investigating how knowledge is co-created during the collaborative problem-solving events, and what is the experience of the participants in such groups

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Punta Cana

June 18th, 2008 · vacation


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KA 702 Human Development – papers

June 6th, 2008 · psychology, research


About a month ago, I attended a two day seminar on KA 702 Human Development. My research topic was Lev Vygotsky. Upon completion of the session, I wrote a reflection paper as part of my deliverables for this KA.

KA 702 Human Development Reflection Paper

My overview presentation on Vygotsky is posted here: Vygotsky KA 702 Overview.ppt

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Applied argumentation

May 23rd, 2008 · humor

  “I am not saying your theory is wrong. I’m saying I reject it”.

Stephen Colbert to Dr. Jennifer Hooper McCarty, “The Colbert Report”, May 13, 2008

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Awareness and “curse of knowledge”

May 21st, 2008 · dissertation, research

A recent discussion at my Doctoral Competency online seminar was about ethics in academic research. One of the students made a great point about  importance of awareness. I agree that we have a fundamental responsibility to have self-awareness – to understand who we are, where we are coming from, and how we may be impacting others. I think this last point is the most difficult of all. We may have the best intentions, and because we know who we are and what we stand for, we sometimes cannot imagine an impact on people who are not like us in some ways. This reminds me of the concept of “curse of knowledge”. Chip and Dale Heath in their book “Made to Stick” are making the point that when we know something, it is very hard to imagine us not knowing it – our background knowledge makes it hard for us to look at the situation from the standpoint of a person who does not have the knowledge. I see it very often in technical world, where engineers struggle to explain something to a non-technical person, because they cannot relate to their frame of reference. The most challenging part of training in a technical support team is to teach people to imagine the situation from the vantage point of the end user; to briefly “unlearn” everything they know about the product they are supporting in order to understand the end user’s question. I believe that in order to be fully aware of the impact we may have on others it is important to be aware of the “curse of knowledge” and actively seek to mitigate it by looking at the situation from the other person’s position – as much as we can.

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Please Mr. Postman

May 15th, 2008 · kvetch

As a Technical Support professional, I have low tolerance for poor service. I imagine professional drivers must cringe when they get to ride in the passenger’s seat, and interior decorators probably get offended when toss pillows don’t match throw rugs. Then again, maybe it is just me and all the other professionals are stoically tolerating outrages against their chosen professions.

Here is the latest in the long list of cringe-worthy experiences. A few months ago I bought my daughter a Wherify Wireless cell phone. It is a cute tiny phone; even though she can only call several numbers that I pre-programmed for her, she can still impress other second-graders, and I get additional peace of mind by being able to track her location at any given time through Wherify GPS-based locator service. Yesterday I received this email from the carrier:

What is more outrageous – the fact that they are spamming customers with a warning of the outage that may or may not happen? Or that the customers cannot do anything about this hypothetical outage of unknown duration anyway? Or that they promise updates that never materialized? No, the most outrageous fact is that this mobile carrier asks the customers to communicate with them through postal mail! Maybe someone should tell them about… oh, I don’t know…phones? Or email? Or how about a notice on their website?

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“Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness”.

May 14th, 2008 · psychology, research

   I have just come across an interesting study that seeks to demonstrate that the price of wine has a physical impact on people’s enjoyment of it. Stanford and CalTech researchers discovered that the volunteers not only thought  the more expensive wine tasted better, but they actually experienced more pleasure when drinking it: the scientists were able to see the change in the brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, the area responsible for pleasure. So the subjects were not just being wine snobs by claiming to enjoy expensive wine more, but they actually were enjoying it more. Of course, the sneaky researchers mislabeled the wine and the $90 bottle was used twice – as the $90 sample and as the $10 sample. This is all well and good, and the experiment is very clever, but the subjects were students, and the sophistication of their palate would at best allow them to tell a Corona from a Guinness, if that!  So we now know that the students are easily manipulated by marketers…what a surpirise!


             Plassmann, H., O’Doherty, J., Shiv, B., & Rangel, A. (2008). Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(3), 1050-1054

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May 10th, 2008 · writing

What a delightful find! The Visual Thesaurus Word of the Day is “Lucubrate”:

“It’s a verb meaning to flesh out an idea in writing, usually in a scholarly way. The Latin root means “work by lamplight,” as scholars of the pre-laptop era were obliged to do”. This is exactly what I was doing all week as I was getting ready to this weekend’s seminar on Human Development, working on my presentation on Lev Vygotsky.

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Tools for research

April 29th, 2008 · dissertation, tools

  I am in my second month of the doctoral program, and still trying to settle on the best workflow and tools to be able to efficiently combine my academic work with my day job and my family life. I am sure it will take me another couple of months to get into the comfortable routine. As of right now, my processes and tools are these:

1. Every book and article that I am using is in EndNote. EndNote is only for actual active material that I have or will be working with.

     a. I try to minimize manual data inpit, so I seach for the books I need cited at Worldcat, and if the book is listed there – and it usually is – I can just click on Export to OneNote and I am done!

2. For extended writing sessions, I try to use Dragon Naturally Speaking if the environment is quiet. This is a great time saver because I am not a touch typist. And the quality of speech recognition is very good.

3. I take notes in Microsoft OneNote.

     a. I read the book or article and mark important passages with a sticky flag.

     b. Print reference from EndNote to OneNote so that I have a full record

     c. A link to a PDF is added to the note entry. The PDF is stored in the “Articles” folder on my HD

     d. I type or dictate notes– paraphrase in black font, quotes in purple font and quotation marks.

     e. When the material is processed, I mark it with a + in the OneNote page.

     f. The keyword “notes” is added to EndNote

4. For the overview type books and articles, I take notes in MindManager and then attach the file to the OneNote page.

5. I am using EverNote – to take notes and clippings that are saved to the Web, as a temporary holding area. I use it for recommendations, suggestions, quotes, pointers, quick thoughts – I can email a note to Ever Note from my Blackberry.

6. For articles available on websites, books for future references etc. I use tagging.

7. I list the books I own at the LibraryThing – great way to never to buy a duplicate of the book you own.

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