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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Speech: Telepathy in Modern Society

My latest speech (March, 2012) follows the theme of mental programs I started with Buttons.   Once again, this a topic that cannot be adequately addressed in 8-10 minutes, the recommended time for an after dinner talk (The Entertaining Speaker, project 5).

In this speech I reference an editorial from Toastmaster magazine, in which the author implies that a person can put feelings of offense in other people through his actions.  The most highly educational part of this speech was going back and researching that article and rereading it.  It turns out that my recollection of that article was highly flawed.  I had synthesized a memory of that article based on a fusion of several articles and news reports at the time.  I was attributing to an article something that was never said!  (I won't link to the other articles, as they will definitely push buttons for many people.) The lessons?  Never trust your memory, and do your research.

(hands to temples...close eyes) Seriously? None? Let me try again. How many telepaths do we have here today? (hands to temples...close eyes) OK, just one. Thank you for being honest.

By now some of you are probably scared. A telepath in our midst? Be afraid, be very afraid.

Let’s face it. There are plenty of people who fear telepaths. Many of these people believe themselves to be victims of telepaths. These people are convinced that somebody is poking around inside their heads and making them do things, think thoughts and feel emotions. They might not admit that a telepath did it, but essentially that’s what they are claiming; somebody is putting strange thoughts and feelings into their heads.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Speech: The Drollery Coefficient

I can't believe I haven't posted this humorous speech yet!  It's one of my favorites, but it requires some knowledge of economics and U.S. politics.

I was planning to present a humorous speech, so I decided to speak on economics. Now I know most of you think there’s nothing funny about the economy. I suggest you watch CNN when the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, Ben Bernanke, or our Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, testifies to Congress. You just have to realize everything they say really comes down to, “It’s not my fault!”

As an engineer I like to think I bring a unique perspective to economics, an inherently technical field. To the independent observer, I’m more like an engineer poking inside a broken office copier; you have to wonder what, if anything I really know.

Like engineers, economists are highly educated, well-versed in math, and like to poke around in very technical things. It’s too bad the economy is a lot like the broken copier, and you have to wonder if the economist poking around inside it really knows what’s going on.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Speech: Buttons

Toastmasters projects limit most speeches to 5-7 minutes. This limit provides an opportunity to practice oratory under a time constraint, and gives more opportunities for speeches at any given meeting.  The major disadvantage is that it fails to provide enough time to explore a topic in depth.  This is my most recent speech of February 2012, and it really could have been explored in much greater depth.

On August 18th, 1994, Commander Michael Baker reclined in his seat in the cockpit of the space shuttle Endeavor on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center. After months of stressful training, he's waiting for that final moment of liftoff to start the mission. As the main engines ignite his heart starts racing. He can feel the vibration in his bones and he involuntarily tenses up, much like the shuttle assembly which stretches and bends under the forces, as it waits to be released and leap into the air, a phenomenon the engineers call the "twang". T minus, 5, 4, 3...and suddenly...silence. Commander Baker's heart suddenly increases again as he literally sees red all across his control panel. At 3 seconds prior to irrevocable commitment to launch, the computer found an error, and shut down the main engines.

Now consider Hector, as he drives along the freeway, enjoying la musica as it blares from the custom speakers in his low rider. He doesn't see the SUV merge into traffic a little too fast nor does he see the sudden shift in cars as they deftly adjust to avoid a minor collision. All he sees is a BMW 535 cut him off in traffic. Hector es muy furioso. He's just suffered an insult to his beloved car, and also to his manhood. Hector keeps a gun with him, as he's learned any inner city latino needs to command respect. He chases down the BMW and fires two shots into the side of the bimmer for good measure before being satisfied and speeding off.