Jon Stewart and the Food Babe, or: toxins in your tea

At heart, I am a scientist. This blog makes me proud. Using the known universe to learn about the rest of the known universe. A plodding methodical set of steps in the best direction possible until more information provides a better direction.

Puff the Mutant Dragon

Let me start by saying I truly love the Daily Show. Jon Stewart cracks me up, and together with MSN (my homepage) and Facebook, he’s one of my three main sources of political news. His focus, of course, is politics not science, and that’s why although his satire is reliably hilarious, when it comes to scientific & public health controversies he tends to shoot a little wide of the mark.

Take, for example, the chemical azodicarbonamide. Recently Stewart decried its presence in Subway sandwich bread because it’s also found in yoga mats, which to him proved it was dangerous — no more needed to be said. But wait a minute. Gypsum is both a food additive and an industrial chemical used to make drywall; does Stewart think it should be banned too? While we’re at it why not ban salt? they use that to make chlorine gas through electrolysis…

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The execution challenge – are you a leader or a 3 year old ?

Vijay, Great blog. Few key thoughts. Some leaders got to their position based on single really good decision or achievement (sold big deal X) and now have no idea how to repeat. The largest group of leaders, have achieved their level by working under a single business / technology condition (dot.com, global SAP in major corporations, portals, etc.). I find this may be 60 – 75% of managers and execs. These leaders are not weighing all the facts. Instead they are pursuing it through a VERY narrow lens, get frustrated when they can’t fit their expectations to reality, and rather than adjust and lead, they lash out as 3 year olds. If you read Nate Silver. He talks about different information styles – Hedgehogs and Foxes. Most leaders, unfortunately, are hedgehogs. They go big and fail. They hang on any news they are right. Foxes instead fight like heck for an idea, but when presented with new, good information adjust. We tend to idolize the hedgehogs and call foxes “flip floppers”, but you really do want to work for leader who is a fox or lucky hedgehog who happens to be in the perfect time slot.

Vijay's thoughts on all things big and small

Everyone likes their leaders to take fast decisions and then stick by the decision in the face of diversity . They like leaders to be proactive and everyone else to be reactionary. Guess what – that is also how three year olds generally work ! But you don’t want your leaders to behave like a three year old , do you ?

Sadly, this is rather common and many of us would have had a boss who acted this way . I certainly had – more than once !

There are a few things that can (and should ) differentiate a leader from a three year old .

1. Ability to change course when needed

Despite best of intentions, some times we have to take decisions that are awful . But unlike a three year old who would just throw a tantrum when challenged – a leader should listen patiently…

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