My brain may not be able to handle my Facebook friends, but I am not giving any up! via Mashable

Stan Schroeder writes:

Ever heard of Dunbar’s Number? According to British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, it’s the cognitive limit to the number of people you can be friends with. The number is 150, meaning your brain can only handle that much friends, and – shockingly enough – it also applies to Facebook.

Even if you have thousands of friends, that number is really meaningless as far as true friendships go, Dunbar told Times Online. He supports this with traffic data. “The interesting thing is that you can have 1,500 friends but when you actually look at traffic on sites, you see people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world,” he said.

This is a well-known concept. The company that produces Gore-Tex fabrics, Gore (as famously explained in Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point), keeps its employees divided into small teams because in very large teams the relationship between people start to deteriorate.

The number is a bit different for boys and girls, Dunbar claims, without going into specifics. “There is a big sex difference though … girls are much better at maintaining relationships just by talking to each other. Boys need to do physical stuff together,” he said.

Posted via web from allen bingham's posterous

Author Don Miller responds to Pat Robertson with love, sensistivity, and grace ... to bad Pat didn't do the same - via RELEVANT.

Back in the day, the comment Pat Robertson made yesterday would have infuriated me. Robertson essentially blamed the devastation that took place in Haiti on the idea that, generations ago, people in Haiti sold their souls to the Devil and are now paying for it. I’m reminded of a similar comment made in a debate on CNN, in which yet another religious figure blamed the devastation in New Orleans following Katrina on the debauchery that took place in that town.

Luckily, or perhaps providentially, Tony Campolo was also on the show and pointed out that the French Quarter was fine, that it was low-income minorities who were devastated, and then asked his fellow guest point blank whether God was angry with low-income minorities. The other guest really didn’t know what to say. Any answer would have painted him a loon.

Regardless, Robertson’s comments further divide people of faith from, well, people of faith. I don’t want to debate the theological ramifications of Robertson’s statements, I only want to point out some perspectives that ease my anger, and instead, cause me to pity him. I consider this a more mature response than I would have had a few years ago. Here are a few perspectives that, hopefully, will keep you from throwing a stapler through a wall:

Many controlling personalities are drawn to the idea of a severe, vengeance-oriented God. ...

Another truth that gives me a more grounded perspective on Pat Robertson is that he really doesn’t represent most conservatives. ...

• I’ve also found that the more I trust in Christ’s redemption to be sufficient, the less overtly religious I am. ...

An appropriate response to Haiti:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in..”

An appropriate response to Pat Robertson:

“You seem angry and tired. Christ loves you. He is not impressed with your religious posturing. He really loves you. You don’t have to hide behind anything anymore. The good news really is that good.”

Donald Miller is a speaker and author of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and Blue Like Jazz (both Nelson). This article originally appeared on his blog. Reprinted with permission.

Posted via web from allen bingham's posterous

President Obama reminds us "Why Haiti Matters" in the week's Newsweek. Let's rise to the challenge!

In the last week, we have been deeply moved by the heartbreaking images of the devastation in Haiti: parents searching through rubble for sons and daughters; children, frightened and alone, looking for their mothers and fathers. At this moment, entire parts of Port-au-Prince are in ruins, as families seek shelter in makeshift camps. It is a horrific scene of shattered lives in a poor nation that has already suffered so much.

In response, I have ordered a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives in Haiti. We have launched one of the largest relief efforts in recent history. I have instructed the leaders of all agencies to make our response a top priority across the federal government. We are mobilizing every element of our national capacity: the resources of development agencies, the strength of our armed forces, and most important, the compassion of the American people. And we are working closely with the Haitian government, the United Nations, and the many international partners who are also aiding in this extraordinary effort.

We act for the sake of the thousands of American citizens who are in Haiti, and for their families back home; for the sake of the Haitian people who have been stricken with a tragic history, even as they have shown great resilience; and we act because of the close ties that we have with a neighbor that is only a few hundred miles to the south.

But above all, we act for a very simple reason: in times of tragedy, the United States of America steps forward and helps. That is who we are. That is what we do. For decades, America's leadership has been founded in part on the fact that we do not use our power to subjugate others, we use it to lift them up—whether it was rebuilding our former adversaries after World War II, dropping food and water to the people of Berlin, or helping the people of Bosnia and Kosovo rebuild their lives and their nations.

At no time is that more true than in moments of great peril and human suffering. It is why we have acted to help people combat the scourge of HIV/AIDS in Africa, or to recover from a catastrophic tsunami in Asia. When we show not just our power, but also our compassion, the world looks to us with a mixture of awe and admiration. That advances our leadership. That shows the character of our country. And it is why every American can look at this relief effort with the pride of knowing that America is acting on behalf of our common humanity.

Right now, our search-and-rescue teams are on the ground, pulling people from the rubble. Americans from Virginia and California and Florida have worked round the clock to save people whom they've never met. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen quickly deployed to the scene. Hand in hand with our civilians, they're laboring day and night to facilitate a massive logistical enterprise; to deliver and distribute food, water, and medicine to save lives; and to prevent an even larger humanitarian catastrophe.

Greater help is on the way. This will be a complex and difficult rescue and recovery operation, and it takes time to move all of the resources necessary into such a devastated environment. But more American rescue teams, doctors, nurses, and paramedics will arrive to care for the injured. More water, food, and supplies will be delivered. An aircraft carrier has arrived. A naval hospital ship has been deployed. And additional aircraft and heavy equipment will restore communications and clear roads and ports to speed relief and hasten recovery.

In addition, in this new century no great challenge will be one we can solve alone. In this humanitarian effort, we'll work closely with other nations, so that our work on the ground is efficient and effective even under what are very difficult conditions. We'll also join with the United Nations, which has done so much to bring security and stability to Haiti over the years, and which has suffered terrible losses in this tragedy. And we'll partner with the constellation of nongovernmental organizations that have a long and established record of working to improve the lives of the Haitian people.

It is also important to note that all of these efforts will be bolstered by the continuing good will and generosity of ordinary citizens. Governments alone are not enough. Already, a record number of donations have come in through text messaging. Money has poured into the Red Cross and other relief organizations. I want to thank the many Americans who have already contributed to this effort. And I want to encourage all Americans who want to help to go to to learn more.

And, lastly, in the days, months, and years ahead, we'll need to work closely with the government and people of Haiti to reclaim the momentum that they achieved before the earthquake. It is particularly devastating that this crisis has come at a time when—at long last, after decades of conflict and instability—Haiti was showing hopeful signs of political and economic progress. In the months and years to come, as the tremors fade and Haiti no longer tops the headlines or leads the evening news, our mission will be to help the people of Haiti to continue on their path to a brighter future. The United States will be there with the Haitian government and the United Nations every step of the way.

In the aftermath of disaster, we are reminded that life can be unimaginably cruel. That pain and loss is so often meted out without any justice or mercy. That "time and chance" happen to us all. But it is also in these moments, when we are brought face to face with our own fragility, that we rediscover our common humanity. We look into the eyes of another and see ourselves. And so the United States of America will lead the world in this humanitarian endeavor. That has been our history, and that is how we will answer the challenge before us.

Find this article at

© 2010 

Posted via web from allen bingham's posterous

What a 100-year old coach can teaches about leadership. At the end of the day do you have friends, family & heath? via Fast Company

The old coach entered the office of a much younger coach and asked, “Got a minute?”

The old man, then 85, showed the coach a medal he had won as a young track star many decades before. Inscribed on the back of the medal were the words, “Friends. Family. Health.” Then the old man said, “When you are done coaching, make sure you’ve got those three things and that you keep them with you.”

That is a story that Lloyd Carr, now retired after a long and successful career as head football coach at the University of Michigan, told about Red Simmons on the occasion of Simmons’ 100th birthday. Simmons is the founding coach of the women’s track program at Michigan and a member of the 1932 U.S. Olympic team. And with traces of red still in his hair, Simmons is still going strong today.

Posted via web from allen bingham's posterous

Tom Peters shares how starting something dull ... check out his stories of Jim and Larry. Are you ready to be boring?

Not sure what you want to do when you grow up? Tom Peters suggests starting something dull or boring and sticking with it. The wisdom of the "millionaire next door" is this:
• They lived in the same town their entire life.
• They're the first generation that's wealthy; had no parental support at all.
• Don’t look like millionaires, don’t dress like millionaires, don’t eat like
millionaires, don’t act like millionaires.
• And most of their businesses, to quote the author, are businesses that could be called “dull.”

And so you want to know what you ought to do when you grow up? Why don’t you get into the dog walking business? Why don’t you clean mold out of basements? Which is to say, anything—in fact, even the stuff that sounds the most dull—can be seriously cool, seriously fun, and seriously profitable.

Posted via web from allen bingham's posterous

Seth Godin asks great questions: Does your job happen to you (victim) OR are you creating the change?

Does your job happen to you?

If you're a willing cog in the vast machinery of work, it's entirely possible that the things that occur all day feel like they're being done to you.

The alternative is to create a job where you create forward motion, where you do things to the job, not the other way around.

Take a look at the language you use to describe what happened at work yesterday, that's your first clue. If you're not the one creating the change, perhaps it's time to start.

Seth always pushes my buttons ... gotta make some change today (and not just for my kids' lunch money)!

Posted via web from allen bingham's posterous

Roger Lowenstein says do what Wall Street does ... Walk Away From Your Mortgage! via The New York Times

John Courson, president and C.E.O. of the Mortgage Bankers Association, recently told The Wall Street Journal that homeowners who default on their mortgages should think about the “message” they will send to “their family and their kids and their friends.” Courson was implying that homeowners — record numbers of whom continue to default — have a responsibility to make good. He wasn’t referring to the people who have no choice, who can’t afford their payments. He was speaking about the rising number of folks who are voluntarily choosing not to pay.

Skip to next paragraph
Source: First American CoreLogic, November 2009

Human Empire

Such voluntary defaults are a new phenomenon. Time was, Americans would do anything to pay their mortgage — forgo a new car or a vacation, even put a younger family member to work. But the housing collapse left 10.7 million families owing more than their homes are worth. So some of them are making a calculated decision to hang onto their money and let their homes go. Is this irresponsible?

Businesses — in particular Wall Street banks — make such calculations routinely. Morgan Stanley recently decided to stop making payments on five San Francisco office buildings. A Morgan Stanley fund purchased the buildings at the height of the boom, and their value has plunged. Nobody has said Morgan Stanley is immoral — perhaps because no one assumed it was moral to begin with. But the average American, as if sprung from some Franklinesque mythology, is supposed to honor his debts, or so says the mortgage industry as well as government officials. Former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. declared that “any homeowner who can afford his mortgage payment but chooses to walk away from an underwater property is simply a speculator — and one who is not honoring his obligation.” (Paulson presumably was not so censorious of speculation during his 32-year career at Goldman Sachs.)

The moral suasion has continued under President Obama, who has urged that homeowners follow the “responsible” course. Indeed, HUD-approved housing counselors are supposed to counsel people against foreclosure. In many cases, this means counseling people to throw away money. Brent White, a University of Arizona law professor, notes that a family who bought a three-bedroom home in Salinas, Calif., at the market top in 2006, with no down payment (then a common-enough occurrence), could theoretically have to wait 60 years to recover their equity. On the other hand, if they walked, they could rent a similar house for a pittance of their monthly mortgage.

There are two reasons why so-called strategic defaults have been considered antisocial and perhaps amoral. One is that foreclosures depress the neighborhood and drive down prices. But in a market society, since when are people responsible for the economic effects of their actions? Every oil speculator helps to drive up gasoline prices. Every hedge fund that speculated against a bank by purchasing credit-default swaps on its bonds signaled skepticism about the bank’s creditworthiness and helped to make it more costly for the bank to borrow, and thus to issue loans. We are all economic pinballs, insensibly colliding for better or worse.

The other reason is that default (supposedly) debases the character of the borrower. Once, perhaps, when bankers held onto mortgages for 30 years, they occupied a moral high ground. These days, lenders typically unload mortgages within days (or minutes). And not just in mortgage finance, but in virtually every realm of our transaction-obsessed society, the message is that enduring relationships count for less than the value put on assets for sale.

Think of private-equity firms that close a factory — essentially deciding that the company is worth more dead than alive. Or the New York Yankees and their World Series M.V.P. Hideki Matsui, who parted company as soon as the cheering stopped. Or money-losing hedge-fund managers: rather than try to earn back their investors’ lost capital, they start new funds so they can rake in fresh incentives. Sam Zell, a billionaire, let the Tribune Company, which he had previously acquired, file for bankruptcy. Indeed, the owners of any company that defaults on bonds and chooses to let the company fail rather than invest more capital in it are practicing “strategic default.” Banks signal their complicity with this ethos when they send new credit cards to people who failed to stay current on old ones.

Mortgage holders do sign a promissory note, which is a promise to pay. But the contract explicitly details the penalty for nonpayment — surrender of the property. The borrower isn’t escaping the consequences; he is suffering them.

In some states, lenders also have recourse to the borrowers’ unmortgaged assets, like their car and savings accounts. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond found that defaults are lower in such states, apparently because lenders threaten the borrowers with judgments against their assets. But actual lawsuits are rare.

And given that nearly a quarter of mortgages are underwater, and that 10 percent of mortgages are delinquent, White, of the University of Arizona, is surprised that more people haven’t walked. He thinks the desire to avoid shame is a factor, as are overblown fears of harm to credit ratings. Probably, homeowners also labor under a delusion that their homes will quickly return to value. White has argued that the government should stop perpetuating default “scare stories” and, indeed, should encourage borrowers to default when it’s in their economic interest. This would correct a prevailing imbalance: homeowners operate under a “powerful moral constraint” while lenders are busily trying to maximize profits. More important, it might get the system unstuck. If lenders feared an avalanche of strategic defaults, they would have an incentive to renegotiate loan terms. In theory, this could produce a wave of loan modifications — the very goal the Treasury has been pursuing to end the crisis.

No one says defaulting on a contract is pretty or that, in a perfectly functioning society, defaults would be the rule. But to put the onus for restraint on ordinary homeowners seems rather strange. If the Mortgage Bankers Association is against defaults, its members, presumably the experts in such matters, might take better care not to lend people more than their homes are worth.

Roger Lowenstein, an outside director of the Sequoia Fund, is a contributing writer for the magazine. His book “The End of Wall Street” is coming out in April.

Sign in to Recommend More Articles in Magazine » A version of this article appeared in print on January 10, 2010, on page MM15 of the New York edition.

I am glad that I am able to make the mortgage payment on our home, and I intend to keep making it! On the other hand, recent news from Wall Street suggests that the moral argument to "send the right message" by being faithful in your payments has no real basis in the business world. For that we will have to run theology and ethics ... both of which may be in short supply on the street.

Posted via web from allen bingham's posterous