Yeast makes bread, beer, and men

beer hot tub

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The boy at the sales counter picked up the can. “What’s this?” he asked his father.
“It’s to grow yeast,” his father said, as he paid for his things.
“Yee-ust?” the boy said.
“Yeast,” his father said.
“What’s that?” the boy asked.
The question hung in the air, as the clerks bagged the beers and said nothing. I waited a few seconds, hesitating, then said, “Yeast are living things, they’re really small, so you can’t see them, but they’re all around. They float in the air, and they can be on this counter top.” I patted the countertop.
The boy looked at me with simple amazement. Then he turned to his father, for some kind of confirmation or reassurance. The father was getting his receipt but stopped and nodded.
I continued: “Do you see when your food goes bad, and it gets black, or brown? That’s yeast and other small living things like it.”
“I’ve seen green stuff,” the boy said excited.
“Yes,” I nodded, “that’s yeast growing on the food, They’re eating the food.”
“Yes,” the father said, “There’s good yeast and bad yeast.” Then he grabbed his bags. “Say thank you.” he said.
The boy wasn’t paying attention. The father prodded him, and looked at me, “say thank you”. I was surprised he was telling the boy to thank me.
“Thank you,” the boy said distracted, still thinking over the idea of these invisible things that surround him.
“Thank you,” the father looked at me earnestly. “You’re welcome,” I told them.
And the two left.
And then I thought, I think I just blew that kid’s mind.
The child’s curiosity. Why did we lose it?

Follow me and I will take you away from the everyday.

TED Talk Tuesday: Carrot-and-sticks don’t work


It’s a common phrase. “Carrots-and-sticks” Carrots are the incentives, and sticks are the punishments for not following the rules.  This phrase was used quite a bit when the US first invaded Iraq eight years ago. They are tools used by those with power to control others.  Another way to put the phrase is, “Incentives-and-regulations.”

It’s interesting to note that often when we have a political leader say something about solutions, it involves incentives-and-regulations. Dan Pink talks about the research that shows us that incentives don’t work in business and, analogously, why they shouldn’t be used as the method to fix our broken institutions: financial, educational,  or political.

Instead, he talks of using other motivators:

Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose

So, what do you think?

Can the government use the 40 years of research to fix our institutions?

Is it time for we, the people, to step in?

If so, what can we do?