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Leland LeCuyer
Attended St. John's College, Annapolis
Lives in Danville, VA
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Leland LeCuyer

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We all are journalists here
The New York Times public editor, Margaret Sullivan, distills twenty years of experience in this piece written for her Columbia Journalism School students. — Sound advice (if a bit preachy) for anyone who posts to social media.
Gilbert “Gil” Daniel's profile photoPeter Strempel's profile photoLeland LeCuyer's profile photoM Sinclair Stevens's profile photo
Okay, I'll take a stab at analyzing the tone. Whether I'm a student or simply a reader of self-help advice, I prefer that the focus be on the task not the people doing the task. Writers can share their passion by talking about the  thing itself, not their reaction to it. This is a classic writing and teaching maxim: better to show than tell. 

Yes, when writers talk about their experiences, they should be trying to elicit the same emotional response that they had from their readers, not just reporting on their response. That's storytelling.

Thus is it Sullivan's focus on herself in the first five paragraphs of her article that I find tedious. I don't know her and so I really don't care what she finds interesting. I'd prefer, if she is going to try to fake a conversational style, that she think a bit about her audience: that is, what I the reader might find interesting. She needs to explain the relevance of her piece to my life. She gives a nod to this idea in fourth paragraph but, I think, she should have started with that and expanded on why she thought her piece might be "of some interest" to her readers. Everything before that sounds like idle warming up. Initially I didn't make it through her five paragraphs of backstory on why she wrote the article. She said nothing compelling.

Contemporary marketing attempts to put people at the center of attention rather than the object: people enjoying a cola rather than a photo of the cola. Supposedly, this focus on people provides an emotional connection to the product. However, some examples show that it might work in the opposite way. Studies of popular posts on Pinterest, for example, showed that the most popular photos were the ones with no one in them. (This came as a big surprise to those reporting on the study.)

When no one is in the picture, then readers have an easier time imagining themselves in it. Moreover, if someone is pictured, the connection to your product is immediately constrained by the demographic characteristics of the person in the picture (ads for boys playing with microscopes, implying only boys are interested in science toys) or, worse, communicating that the person pictured is part of the product. (Buy this, you get her.) Other cultural problems arise when you put fake people in the picture. IKEA, who shows families enjoying their products on some pages of their catalogs, had to create separate photo shoots for some countries that didn't cotton to the idea of husbands and wives hanging around in the bathroom together. 

While that might sound ridiculous, my point is that you wouldn't have the problem at all if you focused on the product not the people, the message not the messenger.

Does that mean I want everything to be impersonal? Am I so cold? No. Communicating genuine passion comes from focusing on the aspect of the topic which elicited one's own passionate response and sharing that. All the other "storytelling" seems, to me, artificial and unconvincing.
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About every two weeks or so, I take a peek at my Facebook news feed. I found that when I check Facebook infrequently, their algorithms do a modestly decent job of displaying what I want to see while omitting what I don't. But if I logon more frequently, the news feed overflows with — what's the word? — crap.

Anyhow, I made my biweekly excursion a couple of days ago only to be presented with this gem from old friend +Phill Hocking, linking to a post by Johann Hari on the Huffington Post:

For the record, Hari sports a checkered past as a journalist, having been fired from The Independent for plagiarism, then following up that act by surreptitiously promoting himself with misleading edits in Wikipedia. Exactly the way to build one's credibility.

In an attempt to rehabilitate his career and, more importantly, his reputation, Hari spent a couple of years wandering through the dark underbelly of the drug/anti-drug culture; this resulting in his book Chasing the Scream followed by the promotional essay Phill shared on Facebook (

Hari makes the not-so-controversial claim that the anti-drug crusade targets blacks disproportionally, citing the police obsession with nailing jazz songstress Billie Holliday. Holiday's tragic story is but one of too many, corroborated by overwhelming statistical evidence of unequal and even targeted enforcement. More controversially, Hari also dared to challenge the conventional wisdom that addiction is caused by moral laxity, as conservatives claim, or by the potency of the drugs themselves: one hit and you're hooked as liberals tend to apologize. To the contrary, Hari contends that addiction arises as a byproduct of social isolation.

In order to keep this post reasonably short, I'll leave to your discretion whether or not to follow up and read either his article or book to learn why and how Hari arrives at his contrarian conclusion. The one thing I will add here is that I find his reasons, as well as his conclusions, credible.

But there is another reason why I wrote this. As I noted in a comment to Phill, Hari's account reminds me of Aristophanes's speech in Plato's Symposium. Aristophanes contends that human beings at one time were embodied with four arms, four legs, two faces, etc. These primordial humans were also strong; so strong in fact that they aspired to storm the heavens and overthrow the gods. This the gods could not forebear. In response, Zeus sliced each of these primordial humans in half, not only weakening them but more chillingly condemning each of these bipeds to a lifetime devoted to the quest to find their other half. Thus, Aristophanes concluded, this was how Eros was begot.

Heaven forbid, I am not trying to equate addiction with love. Instead I am aspiring to point out that love, addiction, indeed most every human struggle and aspiration, share one single common genealogy: the fact that we are missing something, that all humans suffer a void. We are incomplete.

Although I find Hari's account of addiction credible, I also find it doesn't go far enough. Isolation is a symptom, not the cause, of this distress. Without a feeling of emptiness, isolation would lose its sting, its potency. We can't bear loneliness or meaningless precisely because we sense that something vital is missing from ourselves. We need others. We need their affirmation. Their competition. Their entertainment. We are not meant to be alone.

Drugs are but a salve to deaden the pain of this wound. Moreover this narcotic assumes many forms. Social media, for one. Part of the pull that social media exerts upon us is the thrill of connecting — however tenuous this thread may be. Acknowledgement is intoxicating. We are rewarded with dopamine-induced highs for our engagement.

But if Hari's account is incomplete, so too is mine. What is this void? From whence does it originate?

This provides fodder for a later post.
It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned in the United States. On the eve of this centenary, journalist Johann Hari set off on an epic three-year, thirty-thou...
Leland LeCuyer's profile photoJo Ann Neaves's profile photoPhill Hocking's profile photo
i am glad that i still am relevant to you +Leland LeCuyer ! i really should be on the plus side of the fence more often, but i've been going through some things. 

i've been very public and candid on here about my struggles with addiction and yes, drugs are just a salve for the human condition. i am very thankful that i am living the #soberlife  these days though; the 12 steps result in finding a conscious contact with God this is the only solution i am aware of to reach completion. :)
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Repeat after me (intoned in your most dramatic Spock voice): "Irrational."

Yes, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter produces an irrational number, π, that holds a constant numerical value which cannot be expressed as a fraction of an integer. Even longer than the Energizer Bunny, the digits keep going and going.

And going ...

Today, March 14, 2015 — conveniently eliding the century — expresses the initial five decimal digits of π: 3.1415. At precisely 9:26:53 local time, an accurate digital clock will display the value of π at ten digit precision: 3.141592653 ...

Coincidentally, did you know that today happens to also be Albert Einstein's birthday? Einstein was born March 14, 1879 — exactly 136 years ago today. Pretty cool, huh?

Yet what could be more irrational than the quest to live forever?

More later ...

Meg Tufano's profile photoLeland LeCuyer's profile photoMr. Patrick Day Kennedy's profile photo
+Leland LeCuyer trivial pertains to the trivium, silly (u 2 +Meg Tufano).

Again: pi = irrational conclusion of two bit supposition (pace Archimedes, Euclid et alii).
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Commerce often takes place between parties who are unacquainted. All the more in a global bazaar. This is a remarkably recent development in the fitful course of human history, becoming commonplace only in the past two or three centuries, or so.

One consistent theme in +David Amerland's message regarding marketing and search has been that the weaving together of individuals and companies into a singular fabric of social media bequeaths those who buy and sell the opportunity to begin to reestablish the personal relationships — not to mention trust — that once were as much a lubricant for exchange as currency has become nowadays; perhaps an even more indispensable lubricant.

However businesses have generally done a poor job of taking advantage of these modern technologies of correspondence as they too often remain stuck in the mindset of gaining some advantage over their competitors or, in some cases, even of their customers. Three hundred years ago, when people personally knew who they transacted business with, such folly would never be tolerated. And I predict very soon such folly will no longer be acceptable to us because we will make known our experiences — good and bad — to each other.

But for now, as we pass through the spasms of transition, trust remains an issue. It's hard to trust anyone who is interested only in your money. So it is not surprising — at least not to me — that so many people prefer not to disclose themselves or their identifying information when making a purchase. This backlash against the asymmetrical accumulation of data is at once reasonable and disturbing: reasonable because trust has not been earned; disturbing because it breeds further distrust.

Social media affords us an opportunity to restore human value to commerce. This is an opportunity too good to pass up.
Europeans are starting to respond to a growing sense of unease over their personal data online, security company Symantec said.
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+Jo Ann Neaves I don't love any country and I don't think that it's a particularly impressive thing to do. I love all of humanity, and I don't think any country has the right to impose itself and its culture on another country. Also, I'm an atheist, so while I respect that you are a Christian, I don't understand what that has to do with what I said above. Am I missing something? (I sometimes do.)   :)
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General Discussion  - 
Why Isn't Every Business a Good Business?
Once upon a time, to form a corporation the founders were required to declare exactly how their company would benefit the commonweal in order to obtain a charter. But in the early nineteen century this requirement became eliminated. How did this come about? More importantly, why?

I found this episode of BackStory by The History Guys quite informative. In the first segment, they discuss how and why the Manhattan Corporation was established, which after several permutations evolved into what today is Chase.

Next week I will offer my opinion, but for now I will refrain from sharing my own thoughts with you. Instead I invite you to lend this program your ear for I think it does a good job telling the story of how social purpose became so extracted from the corporate boardroom that Milton Friedman could declare with a straight face that, “There is one, and only one social responsibility of business: to engage in activities designed to increase its profits.”
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+Leland LeCuyer Thanks! We enjoy doing it- it's so nice to think our little show is helping people forge ahead to their own lifestyle goals.
What's another of your favorite podcasts? I listen exclusively to podcasts when I exercise and when I bike to and from work (a lot of time), so I'm always looking for great suggestions.
This backstory is on my mp3 player (again- it's been a year or so) now, I'll listen to it on my run this morning.
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Glia for Algernon
I know, I know. I've been off G+ for far too long. But when I saw this I just knew I had to share it with +Gregory Esau (founder of Glia) and +David Amerland (who introduced me to Daniel Keyes' fabulous short story that grew into a best-selling novel Flowers for Algernon).   :)

Francis Bacon famously noted that the most effective way to learn about nature is to torture nature. In this particular act of torture scientific experiment, Steve Goldman of the University of Rochester Medical Center injected mouse pups with human fetal glia cells which "within a year, the mouse glial cells had been completely usurped by the human interlopers."

Mouse neurons. Human astrocytes (a particular type of glial cell).

What Dr. Goldman's experiment reveals is how vital glial cells are to human intelligence. This suggests they provide far more than mere scaffolding or, alternatively, that the scaffolding glial cells construct do add something significant to human cognitive capacity.

However this "knowledge" is obtained at a price. As Daniel Keyes story vividly details, profound ethical and personal quandaries attend any effort to artificially enhance our cognitive abilities, not least of which is the very real danger that by doing so we may lose our very humanity. Knowledge by itself does not make anyone wise. Or more caring.
Spectacular.  This one experiment proved several things.  “Mice have been created whose brains are half human. As a result, the animals are smarter than their siblings.” The altered mice still have mouse neurons – the "thinking" cells that make up around half of all their brain cells. But practically all the glial cells in their brains, the ones that support the neurons, are human.  
Beyond the “uplift” related implications… (contain these buggers carefully!)… it also proves something I have long contended, but which singularity hyper-optimists like Ray Kurzweil denied… that there is more to the computational power of our brains that the mere flashing of neurons. Stuff is going on elsewhere!  Perhaps “intracellular computing” in which a myriad non-linear “calculations” take place within aqueous bags, for every sparkle where axon meets dendrite.  IF this is true, then we are even more marvelous than we thought, and it will take many more Moore’s Law doublings before a box can begin to emulate a human brain.
“Human astrocytes are 10 to 20 times the size of mouse astrocytes and carry 100 times as many tendrils. This means they can coordinate all the neural signals in an area far more adeptly than mouse astrocytes can.”  This also provides a mouse analogue in which detailed studies of human cells can take place. 
One researcher asks: “"If you make animals more human-like, where do you stop?"  Um…. Indeed. I think let’s discuss this.
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+Leland LeCuyer , thanks for the ping!
It's a wonderful piece for both the obvious #Glia  tie-in, but more so for the potential of treating brain malfunctions like dementia. 
(And hopefully we don't wind up with a breed of super mice who take over the world!)
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The WaterCooler: Misc. Intercourse and Jibberjabber  - 
+David Khan did you remove the post about non-contradiction? I wish to respond to it.
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Yes, I did not, not remove the contradictory, non-contradictory post, not.
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Science Advances (in fits and starts)
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) the publishers of the journal Science recently launched a new online-only "open access" journal they named Science Advances. (Link below.) Like most peer-reviewed scientific journals, particularly those published under the imprimatur of the AAAS, the quality of the research reported will be of the highest standard.

But when I perused the website further, I found one curious and perhaps disturbing discovery. I'll quote directly from the site:

Frequently asked questions
7. What does it cost to publish in Science Advances?

Science Advances is supported by article processing charges (APCs). This fee is paid by the author when an article is accepted. Please visit the article processing charges page for more information on our pricing structure.


I could go on. Go ahead, look for yourself. Check out the Article processing charges page. In addition to the expenses for maintaining a lab, hiring researchers, soliciting grants, now scientists are expected to pony up for the publishing of their findings. (As any parent of a princess knows all too well, buying a pony ain't cheap!)

I get it. The entire business model of publishing has been stood on its head. In the topsy-turvy world of publishing today, too often it is the author who must bear the expense of manufacture and distribution in order to share her or his wisdom with the world. But there's a slight catch to this dizzying arrangement: publication has metamorphosed from merit to privilege. Only those who enjoy the means to pay enjoy the privilege of seeing their work distributed by the venerable AAAS. Submissions, accordingly, are not judged merely upon the excellence of their work and presentation, but additionally by the depth of their finances. 

I have little doubt that the AAAS sees this quite differently. The AAAS is more than happy to support the very few publish-worthy submissions issuing from those unable to afford these fees. But that's the point: this schedule of APCs itself discourages anyone not in a position to afford these fees.

Science has always been expensive. Partly because of this, science has remained a mostly privileged reserve for the wealthy elite. Access is limited.

This, of course, is tragic. Why? Because discovery and insight are not limited to people of means. Michael Faraday went from sweeping the floors of a lab to inventing almost in its entirely the modern world. Every electric gadget owes its existence to the creative imagination of the son of a blacksmith in Surrey.

Science Advances, not because scientists pay to play, but because of the human, all too human, urge to discover — an urge shared by most every human who hasn't had their spirit crushed.

#science   #publishing  
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Excellent point, +Leland LeCuyer. My sister is a scientist and the pressure for funding is never-ending. This is just an added source of pressure in that sense.

It does also seem to mimic a broader trend toward paying for attention, and Facebook is the champion at building a large-scale system, very much geared toward that model. 
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President Obama objected to China's new regulations that force U.S. tech firms to comply with government surveillance.

#hypocrisy  #do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do
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yea normal
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Google: À la recherche du temps perdu
Larry Page has admitted that the company has outgrown its mission statement to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” ...
— The Guardian (

#mission   #history   #preservation  
Oh, Mr Santayana, where are you now?

It was George Santayana who wrote. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. What would he have to say about +Google according to +Andy Baio. Thank your local #library  for remembering, no, for treasuring the past.
As Google abandons its past, Internet archivists step in to save our collective memory.
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+Gideon Rosenblatt​ yes they do. Usually because they find/anticipate/create the next big wave and catch it. For GE, it was GE capital.
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Leland LeCuyer

Introductions  - 
Not unlike Chance the Gardener in Jerzy Kosinski's tale, Being There, I like to watch.

I have been lurking, silently, in the background, reading posts to this community without commenting. I have learned a lot. You have introduced me to many fine thinkers — and their speculations — with whom I had been hitherto unacquainted.

The time has come for me to step onto the dance floor.

I fancy myself a moral philosopher, although some of you might properly question whether I am either moral or a philosopher. My only credentials are my words backed by my deeds. Feel free to liberally sprinkle what I postulate with multiple grains of salt. Indeed I encourage you to do so, because skepticism tends to extirpate error and excess, and I am as prone to vanity and exaggerated self-importance as any other specimen of our species.

Lately I have been obsessing over one idea: will the human conversation continue? We seem to have entered a most perilous epoch — the anthropocene — where our technology and sheer numbers are exerting overwhelming pressure upon the capacity of the planet to provide for large organisms like ourselves. Yet, as individuals as well as a species, we humans are the most adaptable creatures evolution has come up with till now. Thus, when Samuel Scheffler in his book Death and the Afterlife asserts without reservation or qualification that "human life ... will, in any case, come to an end eventually," I find myself protesting against the inevitability of that eventuality. Why can't human life, human culture, human discourse continue indefinitely into the future? I see nothing that condemns our kind to extinction; no adamantine logic that forces the story — our story — to come to its bitter, final, irrevocable end.

Perhaps I am leaving the impression that I disagree with Scheffler. To the contrary, I think we are both on the same page. We both share the conviction that the inevitability of death for an individual — my own death — your own death — is tempered by the knowledge that "other human beings will continue to live" after we have departed. Much of what we do, we do for the sake of those who will come after us.

Apart from the fact that I first learned of Scheffler and his book from a post by +John Danaher to this community, perhaps you might be wondering what my obsession has to do with the Philosophy of Mind, if anything? Nothing. But what does the Philosophy of Mind have to do with species survival? Everything. If I may take a cue from Socrates, "Know Thyself" is a vital first step to make. And what could be more central to human self-knowledge than plumbing the mystery of consciousness.

If the human race were to perish, what would be lost? The universe would be deprived of human consciousness. As far as we know, we are the only beings in the universe capable of enquiring about the nature of the universe and the nature of itself. Perhaps other beings elsewhere might be or become capable of doing this, but we haven't established contact yet, as Carl Sagan reminds us in his novel. It would be beyond presumptuous to believe such creatures do in actuality exist, all the more so to act on such an unsubstantiated presumption.

Does the mind emerge from electrical impulses of the brain — "neurons that fire together wire together" as Donald Hebbs proclaimed — or does the brain along with everything else in the universe exist only in consciousness? Such is the antinomy that resides at the heart of the Philosophy of Mind. I don't pretend to know the answer or even if it is answerable. Kant, for one, contends that this is beyond the capability of reason to resolve. But perhaps Bohr offered a more helpful insight about this mystery, namely that these are two complementary frames and no investigation could be complete without including both accounts however contradictory.

These are questions to be taken up later. But for now I would like to say "Hi!" and express how grateful I am to be able to participate in this conversation.
Kristin McCloy's profile photoAdam Black's profile photoLeland LeCuyer's profile photoMichael Sova's profile photo
Thank you, +Adam Black, for your thoughtful reply. The purpose of a G+ community is, in my opinion, to facilitate conversation. I am preparing a longer response to you , but deemed it as uncharitable to not reply in a more timely way. I do happen to disagree with you, but that is not to say that you are not right. To the contrary you probably are.

But as I began to compose my reply something leapt to mind that, doh!, I didn't explicitly recognize before. The reason I am so interested in the philosophy of mind is related to the fact that human consciousness is both unique and precious. I have to look up the exact quote, but Carl Sagan at one point described human consciousness as the universe contemplating itself.

Perhaps there are other forms of intelligence capable of contemplating the universe. Perhaps not. We have not found any yet. Therefore, we are the shepherds keeping guard over something that, as far as we know, is irreplaceable. It would be more than a tragedy were we to lose our flock.

I'll explain more later.

Thanks again, Adam.
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People-Centered  - 
What if branding was about discovering our true fundamental values?
This profile of Clare Goodridge by Sid Thoo just popped up in my Google notifications, courtesy of +Adam Johnson (remember him?).

+Jodi Kaplan has, yet again, pleaded that we limit our posts to this community to topics that somehow relate to Good Business. I won't attempt to justify why I'm sharing Adam's youTube comment here, except to say that the hardest thing was deciding which section to put it in, for this video is about people and purpose and sustainability and marketing. Just watch it to see for yourself. It's only 5 minutes long. 
This is great, well done Clare and Sid!
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I would think branding is really about pulling a blind over the consumers eyes. Rather than let the consumer be the judge, we barage them with so much images of our product, it blocks out competition?
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Danville, VA
Boston, MA - Madison, WI - New York, NY - Waterbury, CT
Of two minds, in contradiction with myself...
With the insight of a nine-year-old, I came to the realization that all my opinions echoed my mother's. I resolved immediately that, someday, I would learn to think for myself. 

I'm still trying (in both senses of the word).
Bragging rights
I survived a year in solitary confinement. My crime? Tuberculosis. My age? Three.
  • St. John's College, Annapolis
    Liberal Arts, 1979 - 1983
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Leland LeCuyer's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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Leland LeCuyer - Of two minds, in contradiction with myself... - Danville, VA - With the insight of a nine-year-old, I came to the realizati