Resolution Progress 2016: End

OK, the year is completely done, so here is where I am with each resolution.

  • Read 75 books. Done.
    • Hit 25,000 pages. Final count is 25,361. Done.
    • Finish series already started. (25 of the 75 books.)
  • Lifting.
    • Bench 240 pounds (1RM equivalent). The actual 1RM that I did during this period was 240. Done.
    • Squat 300 pounds (1RM eq). The actual 1RM that I did during this period was 310. Done.
    • Deadlift 335 pounds (1RM eq). The actual 1RM that I did during back in July was 365. Done.
    • After getting to these, I will shift to reaching the “essential benchmarks” of bench 1.5x body weight (375 lb), squat 2x bodyweight (500), deadlift 2.5x bodyweight (625).
  • Drop to 20% body fat. No progress. Two years in a row I’ve nor really tried hard towards this one. Probably a sign.
  • Do the White and Orange trails in under an hour. Christmas Eve Eve, I made one last shot. I made it 1 hour 5 minutes and 3 seconds.
  • Attend 12 social events when invited. I am going to count having a party as 3. And going to a movie with friends as 1/2. I hosted a party in April which is 3. I attended a  couple movies with friends in a group. And then a cocktail party, birthday party for a 20 year old cat, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, meet the baby, Thanksgiving x2, Christmas x2, and after brunch. That puts me at 16 which exceeds the goal. I feel exhausted just counting all that.

(First Quarter, First Half)

Peril of Good Intentions

Defeated in college

I ran across a friend’s Facebook post about parenting and related a description of a college psychology professor’s eugenics lecture. The reply was that eliminating the genes of less intelligent people seems like it could help improve society. This seeming promise is why it has been tried many times. Before the Holocaust shifted to genocide, it dabbled in eugenics and mimicked United States eugenics programs.

But, let’s assume that a eugenics program stayed away from genocide. I still have issues with this…

Why a specific person is intelligent or not tends to be not so clear cut as good or bad genes. Psychologists tend to be pretty sure that most of intelligence comes from genes. I personally think genes provide recipes for brain cells and a layout of those cells. The brain cells still have to be grown and connections established in the brain. Exposure to various experiences in the raising of the child help achieve the potential provided by the brains. If a person both has good genes and was raised in such a way to maximize their potential, then I think a person ought to become the person we want them to be. Are we at a point where almost all children can are provided the experiences to reach this potential? Not even close. I think people who think we reasonably are at this point feel that eugenics or genetic modification are the ways to push beyond our plateau. I would prefer we fix the environment before we start punishing people for lack of socioeconomic resources or programs to help.

Biases cloud our conclusions in situations where we are not usually aware. It was thought the reason orchestras were almost all male because they were better performers. They shifted to a better mix of genders after the practice of blind auditions became common. Why? Because there are biases which affect opinions assessments beneath our ability to tell. We see similar issues when it comes to intelligence assessment and especially jobs in skilled fields. IQ tests have fought hard to get better at not being WEIRD. Anonymous names on papers change the grades students get and which conference submissions are accepted. Some of meritocracies could be doing much better.

When people think they are objective and unbiased then they don’t monitor and scrutinize their own behavior. They just assume that they are right and that their assessments are accurate. Yet, studies repeatedly show that stereotypes of all kinds (gender, ethnicity, age, disability etc.) are filters through which we evaluate others, often in ways that advantage dominant groups and disadvantage lower-status groups.

The eugenics movements were confident the physically & mentally unfit, materially poor, and atheists needed to controlled. People of color just happened to commonly be identified as meeting their criteria. I will be skeptical of any similar movement to be truly objective because even though they truly intend to be, the prior ones thought they were too. Hindsight shows they were not.

Of course, the abomination that I am was the reasoning for why my parents were not allowed to marry in my home state. It was deemed bad for the Caucasian race to allow mixing with inferior races. That probably fuels my own bias against this kind of thing.

Death of Childhood Icons in 2016

This post will date me, but people about my age have whined a lot this year about iconic people to our lives dying.

A year is an arbitrary range of time for a solar revolution. It could could run from March 21st (the spring equinox) to March 20th just as easily as it currently runs January 1st to December 31st. Or another range of dates.

Some people have blamed the year. (Hopefully not seriously.) I think it is because we are essentially older. Our parents are of an age where they are more likely to have health problems and possibly die. The same as their parents did for them about 20-30 years ago.

The people who were famous for things they did in the 70 and 80s are of an age where they are more likely to die from complications due to being old.

Others were younger, but still getting close to old. Some of these are also known for their drug use.

The BBC made an interesting point…

There are also more famous people than there used to be. In my father or grandfather’s generation, the only famous people really were from cinema — there was no television. Then, if anybody wasn’t on TV, they weren’t famous.

Well, there were radio stars prior to TV. And these days TV and movie and theatre actors / actresses significantly participate in multiple mediums.

There is also the 27 Club, who are celebrities who died at age 27. Think Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin or Kurt Cobain. There was one this year: Anton Yelchin who played Chekov in the Star Trek reboot.

Finally, the availability heuristic is also at play. News organizations talking so much about these deaths can make it FEEL like more died this year than last. Just because the number of stories is up does not mean more died.

Podcasts

Until recently I mostly eschewed podcasts. I only listen to the local NPR radio station as part of my morning alarm or driving somewhere.[1] Podcasts were often how I listened to the whole episode for something that was interesting. I did not really subscribe so much as list them and occasionally check for something.

A couple years ago I did start more actively listening. About a year ago I started looking for new content. Like all things that I do, I over extended myself. I am at the point where I need to cull. There is no way that I am ever going to listen to all these podcasts, so I need to decide which to keep and which to ditch.

So here is my list at the moment categorized into genres:

Obviously much of what I listen is influenced by NPR, which is explained by my origin. But, also FiveThirtyEight, Gimlet Media, and various science magazines.

Shows that are dead in the water, but in my backlog.

Podcasts discussed Sunday that I may have to try.

Podcasts I noticed researching this post.

Here are ones I started listening at some point and gave up on.

  • British History
  • Freakonomics Radio
  • Invisibilia
  • Planey Money
  • Reply All
  • Serial
  • Try It, You’ll Like It
  • Vox’s The Weeds
  • Waking Up with Sam Harris
  • Welcome to Night Vale
  • 2 Dope Queens

Notes:

  1. This has been my habit since 1998 when my human growth and development psychology professor went on a rant about how important it was.

Stealing the T

The Georgia Institute of Technology has a tradition of stealing the letter T. I first ran across this in a local news media story where the letter T was stolen from signage. The main tradition is stealing the T from Tech Tower which has “TECH” on each of the four sides. (They return it during halftime of the homecoming American football game.)

It occurred to me that it would be especially hilarious for some GT alumni to steal the Ts in Trump Tower in Manhattan. It would become Rump Ower.

Facebook Comment Chat Box Pop-ups

Well, it came true for me. Facebook pushed to me the new feature of comment threads appearing in a chat box.

I hate the chat box on Facebook. I keep an open tab for messages for ongoing conversations specifically because that seems to suppress the chat box. I do not mind the notifications at the top right, but ruining screen real estate by blocking what I am reading that makes me have to close the box in order to finish? No thanks. That is an unnecessary interruption to what I was doing. It makes me more likely to ignore the message because I am determined to finish what I was doing.

The comments chat box keeps a count of how many unread have come through it. So, basically, in the top right I get a notification AND a second notification at the bottom for the. Same. Exact. Thing. Fortunately, it does appear if I check the chat box comments, then they simultaneously disappear from the top. But, if I make the mistake of checking new comments via the top in a new tab as is my normal operation, then I still have to read them in the chat box. Closing the chat box does not clear the unread.

Even when I have closed all the conversations, if I navigate to another page, then it returns and I have to close the open one just to be able to read the page. Again, my normal method of reading is to open notifications in new tabs. Then close the tab when I have consumed the new content. That basically opens a bunch of these chat boxes I have to close. Essentially, Facebook only wants us reading comments in these chat boxes and not by opening new tabs.

There is a “Hide this tab” option which asks if I want to also disable notifications for that post. I was initially confused and hit disable which means I no longer get anything about that conversation. I now hit keep. That does get me back to where I want to be with only having the single notification for comments. But, only for posts I have already handled. I will have to go through this process again for every single conversation on Facebook which is ridiculous. I may have to just not comment on anything new or post anything else until I have a permanent fix. OK, that is hyperbolic, but I will limit engagements with others until it is solved.

I tried to disable this new feature in the user interface, but naturally Facebook is on to us and did not provide a way to do so. They want us to have to become used to it before we are given the ability to restore our now bad habits. People turned off chat back when they introduced it. The help page on it is full of people complaining about this new feature.

F.B.Purity has not yet caught up to this feature. The “Hide Chat Box” gets rid of the Messenger box not the comment one.

“Job Title”

No one knows what is a Technology Strategist. So, a while back, I changed my title on LinkedIn to Systems Architect and Engineer.

The side advantage to this is I can tell the source of where people have gotten my information. If they were looking at my Curriculum Vitae, then they would see Technology Strategist. If they got it from a conference I attended, then they would get the same.

The past several cold calls have all been the job title from LinkedIn. So, I decided to change the one on the CV to Application Infrastructure Architect. Now, all three have different titles. All three are fair.

The Anti-Boycott

Starbucks Cup by Hiro – Kokoro☆Photo

Do boycotts work anymore?

It seems like of late boycotts have returned to the en vogue way of attacking a company or movie with owners or creators one dislikes. But, then people on the other side of the issue see the talk about a boycott and step up their business. If anything, then it seems like the boycott target ends up doing better not worse.

In most cases the target of the boycott was doing okay, but not especially well. People had mostly forgotten it existed. The boycott essentially gives it free publicity. My guess is people who like the business but dislike the stance of the issue will be torn. Some will stop giving it business, some will pull back some, and most will stay about the same. The supporters of the issue will swarm it.

Probably good that I am not a marketer, because I would be willing to dabble with a guerrilla marketing campaign where I poll how people feel and instigate boycotts against my client.

Blogs in a post-truth society

I love Michael Lopp’s writing in Rands In Repose. His entry The Likeability Feedback Loop captures why I still have my RSS reader and try to comment on posts that engage me.

Social media gleefully feeds a post-truth society and it does so by design, but social media is not the problem. Fake news is not the problem. The problem is we the people taking the time to think critically.

Comments are open here because I know that while it is my great joy to understand and write about a few select topics deeply, what will make these topics honest and true is if you tell me what you think.

Bloggers tend to engage their readers, welcoming feedback, and asking for more when they fail to understand it. Not every one, but enough that it makes commenting worth the chance. They enjoy the conversations.

When WordPress Jetpack released their publicize tool to put posts on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google+, I almost refrained from using it. I was not sure at the time I wanted to mix my social media and blogging spheres. It fractures the conversation. The responses on those spaces do not make it back to the post, so there are five different spaces for the conversation.

Of late, Facebook also notifies me each week how many likes my content received. The most recent one was about 230-something which pleased me because it was around 140 the two weeks prior. And then I realized just how shitty it is that I valued myself over Likes. So very superficial.

The comment I left for Michael:

Blogs are harder to consume than social media. There is the challenge of discovering ones I like enough to subscribe. The constant dying of RSS readers. And the death of blogs I enjoy as the bloggers encounter life changing circumstances.

Social media is far easier. People I follow suggest things for me to read. I subscribe to essentially curators who put in front of me the things I want to read. And really I am surprised Facebook and Twitter have not gone the way of SixDegrees, Tribe, Friendster, and Myspace.

Review: Star Wars: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel

Star Wars: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel
Star Wars: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rogue One is a prequel to A New Hope. Catalyst is a filler book tying together the events of Revenge of the Sith movie with Rogue One. I have not yet seen the upcoming movie, but the given what I know from watching the trailers dozens of times, I feel comfortable that I understand where it will be going.

The plot and writing are pretty basic. Books like this name drop a bunch of characters, so we have the expected names like Jyn Erso, the Emperor, Darth Vader, and Moff Tarkin. Plus some extremely minor characters non-fans would need Wookiepedia to recall. Plus some new faces show up.

I liked some of the science introduced in the story. There are some hints that I hope are further expanded in the movie where I can tell my friends, “Well, if you read Catalyst, then you would have seen that coming.”

View all my reviews