Distractions wide and narrow

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Paul Ford writes on two different kinds of distraction, one good and one not so good:

But when wide distractions are available I avoid the narrow distractions, and those are the useful distractions. Let's say you're thinking hard about a concept--say, kittens. Kittens are young cats. They have paws and they are sometimes friendly. Your stepmother, you remember, didn't let you have a kitten. Why was that? Was she allergic, or did she really just hate you? Now, that's something worth thinking about. A concept worth exploring. That's a narrow distraction, a good distraction.

But with a wide distraction you think about kittens and all of a sudden your email pops up and you're thinking about Viagra, and about how horrible the world is and how it's filled with rapacious greedy spammers. You're not able to think about kittens any more so you check out the news to find out that China has a manned space program. Click. And that peak oil is a real problem and we might be living in an age where electricity becomes prohibitively expensive. Click. And that Apple just released a new iPod again, and everyone is all aflutter. There's really no way to bring all of that back to kittens. You've been broadly distracted. You might as well play some solitaire and go to bed.

In another article, he writes about how he copes with the temptation to broad distraction from his computer -- he uses Word Perfect for DOS and a little electronic keyboard that does nothing but store the text that you type for basic composition and editing.

And lately Iíve been working hard to become more productive. Iíve started quit every application that isnít relevant to the issue at hand and tried my damnedest only to allow the good distractions to come in the door, rather than to let the broad, wide world in at all times. I try not to multitask when I can help it. I think of this as "Amish Computing." You push the worldly things away because they distract you from your goals.

I actually came across these a few days ago and was going to post something about them, but I got... well, you know.

4 Comments

W. Author Profile Page said:

"Amish computing." Isn't that a non sequitur?

susan said:

There is a man that has that "creative wide distraction" and instead of it being a hindrance,
he hires people to do those narrow things. He owns some planes and his creative wide distraction is a plus for him, so don't think of it as a negative.

Since this is an opportunity to go off topic since you are talking about distractions, someone commented about Route 66 being "just a road" -- what was the big deal about it?

I just saw on television that Harland Williams,
a comedian made a deal with Dreamworks to later
do a movie deal about ROUTE 66! When I first saw Harland Williams I thought he looked like Sean Penn, but I have never seen Sean Penn act funny so I looked a little closer and it was Harland Williams. That should make the people at Route 66 on Memorial excited that Route 66 will be promoted in a movie and will probably bring them even more business!

susan said:

It's also interesting to note that Dan Keating, brother of former Gov. Frank Keating was listed as a "financial specialist" when he served as a delegate at the convention in New York.

Michael, you could interview Dan Keating and see if any of his legal buddies will open up all those questionable records on Great Plains Airlines. Who knows, maybe he will open up about Great Plains Airlines since he describes himself as a financial specialist and Dan used to work as an employee at Bank of Oklahoma who made the loan deal.

Was the $15 million deal sold to an insurance company to apply to the BOK deal?
Even in 2001, financial analysts I believe from the Wall Street Journal were weary about this Great Plains deal.

susan said:

Chris Medlock has mentioned any "documented and generated" airport investigation should be from the ENTIRE TULSA CITY COUNCIL! I AGREE! Let each councilor pull their own work weight on this! In order to make a good and responsible report, ALL THE FACTS need to be looked at and considering our wonderful Tulsa World news staff sees absolutely nothing wrong with TAXPAYERS spending almost $200 Million
Dollars on an ARENA where the decision where the Arena is to be placed was decided by WHO????
An Economic Committee just spent $100,000.00 (was this also TAXPAYER MONEY?) for the "thoughts" of "possibilities" of how Tulsa
could improve its tax base. One planner was from St. Louis and if anyone has been to St. Louis, where are the Planners in that city?
The Loops and street planning is always a pain if you are going up north from Tulsa or coming back from up north back to Tulsa. Many areas of St. Louis look as though their city needs improvement, yet Tulsa seeks out a planner from a city that is not a ROLE MODEL for us to look to?
What kind City Council members would not want all the FACTS -- especially from the records Chris Medlock is seeking?
Considering there was a
need for a FEDERAL INVESTIGATION into Tulsa Airports operations and the federal probe harshly critized a FINANCIAL PACKAGE given to the now-defunct Great Plains Airlines, saying it was a convoluted loan to get around a ban against
direct subsidies from local airports to airlines.
There was a $30 million loan approved by the Bank of Oklahoma. The loan was "guaranteed" by the Tulsa Airports Improvements Trust. All the
dealmakers that came up with the Great Plains Airlines/Bank of Oklahoma loan guarantee plan should be made public. All of the details going way back to 1996 should be made public. All of the records should be made public since TAXPAYERS
are being looked to for a bailout plan for some group's bad decision making.
Placing all the burden on Chris Medlock is unfair. Let the other Tulsa city councilors pull their own weight on this issue.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 1, 2005 11:48 PM.

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