1. robro says

    It was my mom’s lectures, tho nothing so elaborate and academic. Just a “good talking to,” as she would say. I told her once I would almost rather she whip me but that just encouraged her to go on with shaming me.

  2. says

    The greatest potential instrument of torture in an educational setting is the Power Point slide presentation. I have heard that there is such a thing as a good Power Point, but like claims of Bigfoot, I have seen no evidence of it. I could walk past classrooms where the prof was using PP and just see the heads bobbing as the students tuned out. I think the problem is that it is incredibly easy to create a stultifyingly boring PP. The absolute worst is watching someone stand at the front and read each slide, never looking at the class, slide after slide after slide. There was one administrator who always used PP for faculty meetings and I absolutely loathed them. Zero connection between speaker and attendees. If you’re going to do that, just email me the slides. It will be at least as effective and take less of my time.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    New England, New York and New Jersey are in för a once-in-a-lifetime cold. Even Lapland in North Sweden rarely get this level of cold.
    If you live on the affected region, just buy stores and stay the hell inside.

  4. robro says

    jimf #3 — Crossword puzzle clue yesterday: “This meeting could have been an _ _ _ _ _”. Not a hard one to get.

    I don’t mind slide presentations (Keynote in my case) in principle, but many people don’t understand how to use the medium. Instead of focusing on a few key points, they have the tendency to do lots of slides with lots of words on each slide or elaborate diagrams with wordy labels. No way the average person can get any useful information from that.

  5. says

    Right, the fewer slides the better. My ideal is 5 minutes per slide. You gotta talk about the stuff you’re showing.

    The worst I’ve ever seen was a Kent Hovind talk where he showed up with a deck of 700 slides.

  6. says

    Upstate NY (foothills of the Adirondack Mountains) here. It is currently 4F (-15C). Cold, but not out of the ordinary this time of year. There is a breeze out there, though, and that makes it dangerous. Expected to hit -15F (-26C) tonight. I’d estimate that we get temps that cold every other year on average. I live at the top of a hill overlooking the main valley. When we get these at-night clear-outs, radiative cooling crashes the temps, but that usually means a temperature inversion, so up on the hill, it’s less cold than in the valley below (a fortunate reversal of the usual). Up in the mountains, though, it gets COLD.

  7. robro says

    PZ @ #6 “Kent Hovind…showed up with a deck of 700 slides” 700 slides! Really!!!! Oops! Sorry! Gotta run. Something important came up.

    I would be hard pressed to do that for my job. Fortunately I WFH almost all the time so if someone is doing the slideshow marathon I can tune out (audio & video off) and play the guitar.

  8. consciousness razor says

    Right, the fewer slides the better. My ideal is 5 minutes per slide. You gotta talk about the stuff you’re showing.

    Do you, though? To slide or not to slide, that is the question.

    Does it also seem like question time is a pain in the ass?

    Generally I’d rather read a few pages about whatever it is, at my own pace. I can go back to check what I think I saw before. And if I want to make a little note in the margins or highlight something in the text which I (but maybe not the presenter) think is notable, surprising, questionable, etc., then of course I can do that on a simple handout.

    I just can’t do that sort of thing with your terrible slides that have to be discussed at length (by you) in order to be (potentially) useful to anybody.

    And sometimes, if you can even imagine it, I suspect that a presenter hasn’t even practiced what they’re going to say ahead of time … !!! They just “give a talk,” that’s all, and yet they seem to believe that people in the audience are actually listening to them ramble on and on like that. It’s incredible.

    Highly-paid speakers are the worst at this, so probably the solution is to pay as little as possible for that — unless of course the whole point is for it to be some kind of spoken word performance art piece or a TED Talk or what have you. I mean, if needed, you could still charge for the nicely organized handout you thoughtfully crafted, and that can come in a package deal with one (1) free performance which is entirely optional.

  9. StevoR says

    I’ve given astronomy talks to a couple of local astronomy using powerpoint and genrally try to mix up some with lots of text and some images and photos. I usually allow about a minute per slide and have around 60 give or take total and my talks usually go down very well, at leats I get a lot of postive feedback on them and don’t see people falling asleep during them! I do practice and go through before hand and try to vary things and add some funny ones, FWIW.

  10. StevoR says

    @6. PZ Myers : “The worst I’ve ever seen was a Kent Hovind talk where he showed up with a deck of 700 slides.”

    Seven hundred!? Flippin’ hell, how long did he spend on each one?! Sounds like the visual version of a Gish gallop.

  11. Larry says

    @ #5

    Instead of focusing on a few key points, they have the tendency to do lots of slides with lots of words on each slide or elaborate diagrams with wordy labels.

    So instead of a few key bullet points and a relevant diagram large enough to actually see, you’re faced with a wall of text that the presenter proceeds to read verbatim and points out features in the diagrams in 4-point font using multiple, bright colors. We referred to that as PowerPoint hell.

  12. Paul K says

    And I’ve seldom been to a PP presentation that didn’t have some kind of technical glitch.

    Almost all of my organized presentations are to kids, and for those, if I use slides, I use a 35mm carousel slide projector. Kids are fascinated by the magical machine from yesteryear, and the worst that can happen is for the bulb to burn out, which it hasn’t dome in the 17 years I’ve been doing this.

  13. Larry says


    I’m amazed your projector continues to work after all these years. Those things came out in the 60s. My mom had one and she would show all our vacation slides, out of focus or thumb in view, on it. I wonder whatever happened to it.

    There is a great scene from Madmen where Don presents a sales pitch to clients and essentially comes up with the name of Carousel. It sold me on watching the show.

  14. Jazzlet says

    I did a talk with one OHP slide, which didn’t even go on the projector until half way through the talk. It is also the talk that got the most pushback of any I’ve ever done. All from men who simply wouldn’t accept that their physical presentation (clothes, hair, posture) had an impact on how well people remembered what they said, as well as how open people were to accepting what they said. I spent the whole of the rest of the conference being buttonholed at every break about how wrong I was, about how what I suggested contravened their right to dress as they liked, et.etc. etc.. I hadn’t said anything like “smarten-up you dirty,long-haired layabouts”, I hadn’t said they had to do anything besides realising that their choice of apparel would affect how their points were recieved. You’d have thought I was insisting they eat babies while trying to get their points accross.

  15. rrutis1 says

    @7 jimf,
    I think we live pretty close…I am just west of Utica. It ended up being about -18 here on Saturday morning, but like you said we get down that far about every other year.