A Literal Matter of Life and Death – 7 Takeaways for May 16, 2021

This Table has been Sanitized
(Image: canva.com)

1. “Mockery is just a disguised fear of the unknown”

A Reflection on Being Asian – Lawrence Yeo – (More to That newsletter)

The full quote: “I’ve learned that people often mock what they do not understand, and that mockery is just a disguised fear of the unknown.”

This is a fascinating self-exploration on what it means to grow up Asian experiencing the current environment. In a sense, it’s a description of how hate so easily begets hate and the steps that we should all be taking to make different assumptions about what other people are thinking.

Do this: read A Reflection on Being Asian. You’ll gain insight.

2. “It’s surprising how many medical procedures end in ‘-oscopy.'”

What I’ve Learned At 65 – David Martin – (Medium)

This one’s for fun, but many of the items hit just a little too close to home. One bit of wisdom, though, applies to any age:

Avoid the things you can’t change, defer those you can and don’t be afraid to say no.

Interestingly after I’d found this, and decided to include it here, I stumbled on his follow-up: What I’ve Learned At 70. Something to look forward to, I guess. (Example: “There’s a big difference between prostate and prostrate.”)

Do this: enjoy them both. And then plan ahead if you’re younger or find a way to share what you’ve learned if you’re older. Smile

3. “… all of us are disabled now and then.”

I wrote the book on user-friendly design. What I see today horrifies me –  Don Norman – (Fast Company)

I wish I could get today’s designers to read this. Multiple times. And then read it again. Norman’s the famed author of “The Design of Everyday Things”, a seminal work on usability in design. What he sees in today’s technology is that it has issues.

While I’m not directly affected — yet — I agree with him 100%. I hear it constantly from my Ask Leo! readers. Who thought gray text was a good idea? Or how about tiny fonts? And with no options to change anything. It’s about more than just readability or even visibility. There are so many issues with so much of today’s technology design it boggles the mind. Many people take it all for granted, and in stride, even. Until they discover some design decision that impacts their ability, or that of a loved one, to use the very tech they’ve fallen in love with.

Do this: Norman’s book is a good read, even though it’s been around forever. But do complain to designers when they build into their designs assumptions that make whatever they’re producing unusable for large swaths of the population. We all benefit from better design.

4. “… a literal matter of life and death.”

Thank You For Your Service – Dan Rather – (Steady, newsletter)

Dan Rather is one of the saner voices in the news. He reports clearly, albeit not necessarily concisely, on a wide range of topics. Subscribing to his newsletter is most certainly worth it. The take-away is taken from a longer quote.

We have learned in this pandemic that cleaning air and surfaces and especially hospital rooms from this wicked disease is a literal matter of life and death.

This issue of Steady honors those who serve in a variety of roles, but most especially those who clean.

Do this: Give Rather a read. More people need to know he’s still at it, and providing a steady voice in a time of turmoil. And thank those who serve.

5. “I don’t get why you need a Powerpoint to have a business conversation.”

Six Decisions a Man Who Just Had a Heart Attack Made – Tim Denning – (Medium)

I think of this as the other kind of “near-death experience”. The person being discussed had a heart attack and while not technically an NDE (he didn’t “die”, as far as I can tell), he woke up. The result, expanded on by Denning, are six decisions changing his approach to life and work.

From the original LinkedIn post:

1. I’m not spending all day on zoom anymore
2. I’m restructuring my approach to work
3. I’m really not going to be putting up with any s#%t at work ever again – life literally is too short
4. I’m losing 15kg
5. I want every day to count for something at work else I’m changing my role
6. I want to spend more time with my family

Do this: Perhaps reconsider your approach to life without needing to have a heart attack to do so.

6. “Ni Hao Huo Xing”

China lands a rover on Mars – The Economist – (Magazine)

That translates to “Hello Mars”. Hello indeed. I know not all will agree with me on this, but I’m quite happy to see another rover on Mars. I look forward to what they’ll discover during their mission. It hasn’t made as much news here as perhaps it warrants, mostly due to “us versus them” mentality, I think, but it’s still pretty cool. I didn’t realize that the Tianwen-1 is similar in concept to the previous rovers Spirit and Opportunity, with a similar planned lifespan. (90 sols). With luck, it’ll outlast the plan, as the latter two did.

Do this: watch for news and progress from outside your bubble.

7. “It’s enough to keep you up at night.”

Pipeline ransomware attack shows U.S. economy’s soft digital underbelly – Jon Talton – (Seattle Times)

This is a topic near and dear to me: ransomware. It’s frustrating to see individuals impacted by it when it’s not necessary, but to realize critical infrastructure could be so seriously impacted, is downright scary. The problem, so to speak, is more than just individuals making mistakes (even in a corporate setting it almost always comes down to one unfortunate individual opening an attachment or clicking a link they shouldn’t have), but companies with insufficient security infrastructure planning for that eventuality.  Perhaps most frustrating of all it seems so many companies don’t have the appropriate level of backups in place. Seriously; done properly backups could make almost any ransomware merely an annoyance rather than a critical or disastrous event.

Do this: back up. You don’t have to be afraid of ransomware — as so many seem to be — but you do have to have a plan, and that plan starts with an appropriate backup.

What I’m Reading

In progress (also on GoodReads):


You’ll find all the books I’ve read or am reading as part of this project on the site’s Reading List page.

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