Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Been There, Didn't Do That - But Still Got the T-Shirt

Last summer, I visited San Francisco, including Alcatraz - the infamous former maximum-security prison. As a memento, I got an Alcatraz T-Shirt.

Yesterday, I visited the local Borders while wearing said T-Shirt. Someone came up to me and said "Those three that went missing - do you think they survived?"

I looked up at him. "Huh?"

"The three who swam out of Alcatraz - do you think they escaped, or did they drown?"

"I have no idea."

"Oh, OK - I thought you were an expert on the subject."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Wisdom Comes Where You Find It

Yesterday, I found out about a job fair at Fort Meade in central Maryland coming up Wednesday. Since I planned to post about it anyway, I decided to check out the announcement. Many of the employers' names were in red and were preceded by red * marks. Given the location of this job fair, the likely clientele and the types of employers, I guessed that the markings indicated that applicants to those firms need security clearances.

(Job-hunting hint: Even if a firm says that they also welcome those who can qualify for security clearances, applicants who already have them enjoy a major advantage. Government agencies may be more willing to sponsor employees to get clearances. All of the above refers to U.S. employers.)

(Job-hunting hint#2: This fair is during the day, so the employers are much more likely to at least consider unemployed people.)

Curious, I called the listed contact person, Jerome Duncan.

Jerome: Oh, that means that's for applicants with security clearances only. It says so at the top of the page.

Jeff: That's good to know. You see, the online announcement, at least, doesn't have that information so I really appreciate your telling me.

Jerome: It certainly should say that - let me take a look.


Jerome: I'm going to have to let them know about this right away. Thank you very much for telling me.

Jeff: Thank you kindly, I appreciate your help.

Jerome: Thank you for giving me a heads-up!

All too many people get so defensive when people point out issues. Even if it's something their co-workers may have messed up, not they themselves, lots of folks shoot the proverbial messenger. So let me be the first to congratulate Jerome Duncan on being open to the facts. Keep up the good work!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Gut Feelings About Justice and Rational Decision-Making

A team of researchers has found that judges are much more likely to grant parole first thing in the morning, and right after lunch/snack break. In fact, the probability that a prisoner will get parole is approximately 65% at the start of a morning or afternoon session - and approximately zero at the end of the session (morning or afternoon).

In fact, these dynamics probably apply to a host of decision-making settings.

That's one more brick in the wall of proof, if proof be needed, that decisions often get made on the basis of non-rational or even irrational factors. After all, what does the exact timing of the hearing have to do with whether or not the prisoner deserves parole?

What's more, this is yet another reason why it's important to get people to like you, no matter what your objective merits are. For example, court clerks often decide which cases get heard when...and they've probably long since noticed how it influences the actual decisions.

H/T: News of the Weird's syndicated newspaper column. IMHO, in this day and age reading paper newspapers may be "weirder" than the above decision-making patterns.