October 14, 2020

Blood is in the news… for a couple of reasons. The first reason is a recently-published Canadian study (which followed-up on earlier studies) that analyzed different blood types and how they relate to C19. In a nutshell, it’s slightly better to be type O and slightly worse to be type A… as far as likelihood and severity of C19. In no way should it alter anyone’s behaviour, because it’s not *that* statistically significant.

I happen to be one of these type-O people… O-negative, in fact, which makes me a universal donor. If any of you ever need some blood, hit me up – I’ve got lots, and can always make some more. Being O-neg, as many of my fellow O-neg people will tell you, means a phone call from the Red Cross every 56 days to go donate blood. I don’t go every 56 days, and I’ll admit I haven’t gone in quite a while… but I do go, and I enjoy my well-earned orange juice and chocolate-chip (not oatmeal-raisin!) cookie for doing so.

Here in Canada, apart from the cookies and juice, we don’t get paid to donate blood. I was interested to learn that in many parts of the world, you do. It’s not a lot, like around $30 per donation, but for some people that can make a difference, and there are people who depend on it. It’s a strange sort of welfare system.

Which brings us to the curious second reason; a plea from a university in the U.S. to its students… to not purposefully contract C19, with the intent of creating antibodies and then selling their plasma.

Convalescent plasma therapy (one of the treatments Trump received) involves taking the blood plasma of a person who’s had C19 and has recovered… but still has the antibodies floating around their blood. Injecting a C19-infected patient with that plasma should give said person’s immune system a good kick in the right direction. Indeed, early trials show a 35% better chance of survival when this is used in “optimal patients”.

It goes without saying that contracting C19 on purpose — any purpose — is not a great idea. That a university has to threaten its students with suspension or expulsion seems to speak to numerous larger issues: young people who think they’re invincible, starving university students trying to make ends meet, people seeking treatment options for friends or relatives who can’t afford it…

That last one is thought-provoking. Not everyone has access to medical care, but you might have access to someone you know who’s had C19 and has a compatible blood type. When it’s life or death, I guess you take what you can get.

I was going to end this with something like “It’s bloody time they do something about it” or “It’s a bloody shame what’s going on”, but instead… I have a joke… it has to do with Trump, and the sophisticated medical treatment he received… but I’m afraid nobody would get it.

View Original Post and All Comments on Facebook

October 8, 2020

A little follow-up to yesterday’s post… and the words “abject despair” that I used.

In trying to remember a time I felt something like that, what comes to mind is the first time I ever participated in Paintball. If you’re not familiar with paintball, it’s where your shoot other people will fancy weapons that fire out gumball-sized balls of paint.. so that when you hit your target, there’s no doubt you “killed” them.

It was a large outdoor course… trees, flats, hills. Both teams start at either end, perhaps 200 yards apart, in their own little fort… which houses a flag. The idea is to attack the opponent team’s fort (10 people per team), take their flag, and bring it back to your own fort.

We strategized for a few minutes, before the horn sounded to start the game, and came up with a pretty good plan… some of us would launch a blatant attack up the middle, while a couple of other stealthier and faster teammates would try to sneak around the sides and attack from behind. A few others, known to have good aim, would guard our fort and flag.

I was chosen to be one of the “up the middle” attackers… tasked with basically getting as close to the enemy fort as possible, surviving as long as I could, hopefully killing some of them, and distracting them away from the periphery.

The horn sounded, and I began sneaking my way toward the enemy. Hiding behind obstacles where I could (rocks, trees, brush), I impressed myself with how close I’d managed to get.

But just as I was about to continue my journey from behind the rock I was presently hiding behind, a paintball went whizzing by me. Shit… I’d been spotted. And for several minutes, there I was, pinned behind the rock. As soon as any part of me moved, paintballs would fly all around me.

Even though it’s a game… even though you’re not going to really die… the despair of being trapped like that really started getting to me. I’m sure my adrenalin, heartbeat and blood pressure were all off the charts.

At some point, my brain just blew a gasket. Without really understanding what I was doing, I stood up, screaming, and charged up the hill toward their fort.

Had this been a Hollywood war movie, this would’ve all been shown in slow motion… possibly black and white… powerful classical music underscoring the pyrotechnics and explosions all around me… and on me, my chest exploding from the many machine-gun bullets ripping into me, my face a grimace of despair and pain.

In reality, I was cut down by about 10 paintballs within 3 seconds… but, might I add, it was just the distraction one of our guys needed. Right after I was "killed", I saw our guy sprinting down the side, headed back to our home fort – enemy flag in hand. Too bad that in real life I would’ve been dead and not witnessed the contribution I’d made to our victory.

Anyway, the point of all that… I learned something about the human animal that day; we all have our instinct to survive, and we all have our breaking point. That was my moment of abject despair, and I hope I never feel it again. I hope none of you do… and as bad as things might get, like I said yesterday, there’s always somewhere to turn; somewhere nearby, your teammate is in the same predicament.

View Original Post and All Comments on Facebook

October 3, 2020

Sometimes, I write these posts in the morning… sometimes, at the last minute… a few times, the day before. I get the impression I’m going to have to back off trying to be too current, because the news changes almost as fast as I can type… and by the time you’re reading this, it could be largely out of date. In any event, I’m writing this earlier in the day and it might be longer than usual to make up for the fact that I won’t have much time tomorrow… so let’s pack two day’s worth of thoughts into one…

First thing… on this side of the 49th… Ontario increased its C19 death numbers significantly… 111 deaths in two days… but no, it’s not so dire. The vast majority of those were re-classifications from deaths earlier in the year.

South of the border… in the news, and changing by the minute, is the remarkable irony of the White House event which was intended to be the grand introduction of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee… but could turn out to be the very reason why Judge Amy Coney Barrett doesn’t ascend to the Supreme Court… that being that there may not be sufficient votes in person to achieve confirmation… because too many Republican senators will be sick and/or quarantining.

I’ve never been to a White House event, but I can only imagine it’s the sort of get-together that involves exotic teas and tiered platters with egg and cucumber sandwiches (no crust, of course), yummy pastries, scones, whipped butter, jam… you get the idea. The poshest of the posh. Side-note, that really made me hungry – any recommendations for local fancy tea places?

Anyway, that particular event will not go down in history for the fine food that was served, nor for the fine China upon which it was presented. Instead, it will be forever known as the Covid-19 Super-Spreader event that changed the course of American history.

It’s only been a few days, but now we’re getting a very accurate account of how fast this virus spreads when it’s in our midst and not taken seriously. Those Republicans, scoffing at the notion of wearing a mask — lest they be ridiculed by their Fearless Leader – may have screwed themselves out of contention. Their reckless, holier-than-thou attitude was evidenced at the “debate” where the entire Trump entourage, having entered the seating area all wearing masks as required, dramatically and contemptuously removed them in unison, with appropriate contemptible smirks to go along with their heroic acts of independence and freedom.

At the White House ceremony, same thing… most guests arrived in masks, but many removed them. There are hundreds of pictures and videos showing what went on. If you zoom up really, really close, like 150,000,000x, you can see the C19 virus balls flying all around, out of this mouth, into that nostril, and so on.

At this very moment, around noon, here’s the known infection roster:

Hope Hicks
Donald Trump
Melania Trump
Senator Mike Lee
Senator Thom Tillis
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel
Advisor Kellyanne Conway
Advisor Chris Christie
Campaign manager Bill Stepien
Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins
3 White House reporters
Conflicting numbers re White House staffers… one or more

Another senator that wasn’t there, Ron Johnson, has also tested positive.

AG William Barr, who was there too — and was recorded having a long, close conversation with Kellyanne Conway — hasn’t tested positive and is refusing to quarantine. By the time he tests positive, we’ll have a good idea who he’s likely infected as well.

And, for what it’s worth, NBC correspondent Garrett Haake tweeted this: “Tillis and Lee are both on Judiciary. I stuck my head into their hearing midweek and basically none of the senators were masked. The staffers around the edge of the large conference room were.”

Obviously, all of the senators in that meeting should be isolating for two weeks… but we all know that’s not happening. Add to that… Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is demanding all senators show up by Monday, Oct. 19th so things can move along. He needs them in person to have the required quorum.

Good luck, Mitch… and, might I add… I remember very well a different Monday, Oct. 19th… back in 1987. That was Black Monday, when the stock market crashed and burned and sent the financial world into a tailspin.

The only thing that might crash and burn this Oct. 19th is Mitch McConnell’s dream of installing a new Supreme Court Justice. As you may recall, Mitch McConnell was the one responsible for blocking Obama from installing a new Justice seven months before the end of his term, saying, at the time, “One of my proudest moments was when I looked Barack Obama in the eye and I said, 'Mr. President, you will not fill the Supreme Court vacancy.'" Notwithstanding the remarkable and blatant hypocrisy with respect to what’s going on now, you know what… Karma’s a bitch, Mitch.

Finally, on top of all of that, there are conflicting messages coming out of the White House and Walter Reed hospital… Trump is good, Trump is not so good, Trump is breathing fine, Trump is on oxygen, he’ll be going home soon, the next 48 hours are critical, he’s responding well, we’re not sure how well he’s responding. You can throw this paragraph away, because it’s entirely meaningless, other than to punctuate with some clarity one of two possibilities… nobody really knows what’s going on… or they don’t really want us to know.

View Original Post and All Comments on Facebook

September 15, 2020

A bit of an interruption to pandemic news and personal anecdotes… because I wanted to touch on a story that’s a big deal around here.

The first thing I thought, when I heard that Mountain Equipment Co-op was being bought out by Kingswood Capital… was, wow, great, awesome… terrific and unexpected news… that the legendary Joe Segal and his crew would be taking it over… finally, it’ll be in good hands.

Joe Segal is indeed nothing short of a legend in this town… businessman, builder, community leader, philanthropist. A well-deserving recipient of both the Order of B.C. and the Order of Canada. And, to be honest, his business ingenuity might have been what could’ve saved MEC… but, unfortunately, it’s not Joe Segal’s Kingswood Capital that’s taking over… it’s a different one, an American private investment firm… and that’s not great news. Say it ain’t so, Joe.

At best, they will simply strip the company down to a form that makes money, and what might have been left (not much) at the heart and soul of MEC will be gone, and it will now just become another big-box retailer. And, at worst, they’ll just shut it all down and redevelop the significant real-estate assets they’ve now acquired. They’re promising to keep at least 17 stores open and 75% of the workforce. We shall see. Sounds good on paper, and those are good quotes to fall back on next year when they shut it all down anyway and say “We tried, but couldn’t survive the effects of the pandemic…” or whatever other excuse.

MEC will become a SFU Segal School of Business case-study on how to run a gloriously successful business into the ground, through awful mismanagement. There’s far too much to get into here, but it’s a long list of bad decisions, and it’s no surprise to anyone who’s been following MEC’s (mis)fortunes over the years. There has been a grassroots movement to remove the presiding board, for years.

Now that they’ve screwed it up completely, this is really the only course of action. They sold because they’re bleeding money and out of options. When he was young, Joe Segal lost his entire life’s saved-up fortune of $3,000 in one night of poker. He managed to dig himself out of that hole… but the close to $100M needed for these guys who don’t know (and haven’t known, for years) what they’re doing – is too much to ask.

It’s this, or bankruptcy and liquidation. And at least this gives it a tiny chance of saving what was once there.

I remember the first day I walked into that impressive place… I remember giving them my $5 and signing up and feeling like I was part of something. I didn’t even know what a co-op was until that day.

More importantly, I remember the last time I was there… and it’s also pretty telling with respect to how things had changed. It had already turned that corner… from co-operative, to… not. I’d gone in to get some hiking boots, and here’s what happened when I approached a salesperson on that elevated shoe area:

“Hi there… I’m looking for some hiking boots.”

“What sort of hiking will you be doing?”

“Hmm… nothing too crazy… like something good enough for the Grouse Grind.”

“Pfffft…. that’s not a hike.”

Heh… I chuckle about it, thinking about it now. But back then (this was more than 20 years ago), it pissed me off.

“Ohhhhh…. sorry. OK, well, if I were a self-righteous prick such as yourself, whose idea of what a hike is differs so much from the common man, what might I be looking for?”

He rolled his eyes and walked away. And I walked out of MEC and haven’t been back since. That was one small step (out the door) for a man. And this recent business decision is one giant leap for mankind… in an unfortunate but necessary direction.

View Original Post and All Comments on Facebook

September 1, 2020

Recently, having just clicked on a YouTube video, I was reading the comments below it. The top comment said something like, “If you’re watching this video, you’re probably procrastinating.”

Very accurate… I was probably eight levels deep, down the “Up next” smorgasbord. I’m not sure what powers the algorithm that fuels the suggestions that populate my curated list of suggestions, but it’s gotten pretty good at knowing me. Good bot.

So I somehow wound up watching videos of “anchor fails”. This is where a ship (the bigger the better!) is trying to drop their anchor, and they make a hot mess out of it.

I’ve learned a lot… I used to have the misconception that it’s the anchor that holds the ship in place, but it’s just as much the weight of the chain, a lot of which lays on the bottom as well. The anchor prevents the chain from moving, and the weight of the chain prevents the ship from moving. It answers the question I never quite understood… if the anchor is “anchored” to the bottom, how do they ever dislodge it when they want to leave?

The answer is… they simply lift it. If you imagine trying to claw wet sand at the beach… dig your hand in, and try to claw along the ground… it’s hard. But lift it straight up, no problem. The anchor doesn’t move laterally very easily, for the same reason… but lifts up no problem.

And… especially on the huge ships, the anchor weighs a lot. As does the chain. The mechanism to unspool it is huge… and is manually operated by some guys who operate the brake. The idea is to let the chain out… slowly, but not so slowly that you’re there forever. And certainly not so quickly that it gets going too fast because, like a runaway nuclear reaction, once it gets out of hand, there’s nothing to do but step back and watch the impending catastrophe… and when the brakes fail or the guys screw up and that chain is unspooling faster and faster… and now there are sparks… and now there is fire, and it’s so deafeningly loud that you can’t even hear the sailors screaming… well, you know what comes next.

There are colour codes on those chains, white markings every 15 fathoms (90 feet). At some point, they turn yellow… the warning shot. You really should be stopping by yellow. And, at the very end, something you should never see, is the red link… the danger shot. It’s also called the bitter end (ahhh, that’s where it comes from) and it’s weak, because it’s meant to break… because either it snaps and you lose the anchor… or you literally rip a hole in the ship as the entire anchor infrastructure makes its way through the hull, on its way down to the bottom of the ocean. Yes… go to YouTube and search for “anchor fails” – you’re welcome.

It got me thinking… somewhere in all of those disasters, there’s that tipping point beyond which now things are not recoverable. It’s impossible to really know. The guy opened the brake just a tiny bit too much… the anchor started dropping just a little too quickly… and suddenly, the whole situation is out of control.

In case you need some help with the symbolism… COVID-19 is the anchor, B.C. is the ship…. and we – you and me – we’re all in charge of the brake. And if we don’t operate it carefully, thoughtfully, kindly, calmly and safely… well, you see what can happen.

I mean it… I’m not just… you know… yanking your chain.

View Original Post and All Comments on Facebook

By |2020-10-08T01:09:10-07:00September 1st, 2020|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report|Tags: , , , , |7 Comments

August 25, 2020

We’ve all heard the joke about the guy who calls in a computer expert to fix some problem. The expert comes in, hits a few keys, problem solved. He then hands the guy a bill for $1,000.

“Outrageous!!”, screams the guy, “How do you justify that?!”

“$1 to hit the keys, $999 to know which keys to hit.”

I was reminded of this joke, dealing with some emails today.

Actually, a somewhat-related story from ages ago… a prof telling me about how when he used to work for some big company back in the 1960s, and they had some fancy, big, expensive IBM adding machines… which were available in three different models… and to simplify things, it was something like the basic model cost $1,000 and ran 1,000 calculations per second. The next model up cost $2,000 and ran 2,000 c/s… and the fanciest model cost $3,000 and ran 3,000 c/s.

Those numbers are off, but you get the idea. And, IBM offered upgrades… if you wanted to go from 1k to 3k, no problem… just pay the difference.

These days, where everything is digital, this is easy to do. Most software can be upgraded online.

But how did that work in the real world? As he told me, when they upgraded from 1k to 3k, an IBM mechanic showed up, broke the official IBM seal, used an IBM-specific tool to open the machine… and then moved a belt… from one small pulley to a bigger pulley. It took two minutes.

Exact same machine… like, identical. Just running faster. Functional pricing at its finest.

If you watched that happened and didn’t quite understand the engineering and backstory, you might feel like it’s a complete rip-off… but the truth is the exact opposite. The guys paying the bills just want a faster machine, and they got it (instantly). How it got there doesn’t matter.

The expert that came in and restored that one corrupted operating system file… that suddenly fixed everything… how much was that guy worth?

Real expertise has a cost, whether mechanical or digital. Lifetime accumulation of knowledge and experience is worth what the guy (or company) providing it thinks… not what you think, just because it looks easy. When it comes to real expertise, typically… the easier it looks, the harder it actually is.

Yadda yadda… it often makes sense to listen to experts; it's often more than just a fancy opinion.

View Original Post and All Comments on Facebook

By |2020-10-08T01:09:43-07:00August 25th, 2020|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report|Tags: , , , |1 Comment

August 9, 2020

So a student in Georgia takes a picture of a school hallway… crowded with students, no social distancing, few masks… a school where shortly thereafter, 9 people (6 students, 3 staff) tested positive (and you know there will be more)… and what happened? The student got suspended for sharing that picture publicly.

The outcry was swift and biting… and the suspension was rescinded entirely… “optics”, you know… but not before we all got a good look at what’s going on… and it’s frightening.

We get the outward-facing message, quotes like “The health and well-being of our staff and students remains our highest priority” – that from the principal of the school. Yet the inward-facing reality is that these schools will lose their federal funding if they’re not open “for real” – for everyone. Well, not everyone… Barron Trump’s private school is online-only, but you get the idea. Forcing teachers and students into an environment most know isn’t safe.

The fact is, in Georgia, within hours of opening, a student tested positive, resulting in the closing of that school, and a two-week quarantine for all staff and students. That was one school, but in another school, just up the road, a student tested positive and was sent home, but the school remains open. The following day, more schools… more cases. I don’t know the most recent numbers, but it’s hundreds of staff. And hundreds of students. A tremendous example of how not to do things. A beautiful example.

Closer to home, let’s worry about us for a bit. While the world just saw its 20,000,000th case and the U.S. its 5,000,000th case recently, Canada is close to 120,000. Quebec recently went over 60,000 cases. Ontario went over 40,000 today. And by the time we get our numbers updated tomorrow, here in B.C., we’ll be over 4,000. Whereas B.C. was formerly a shining example… now, not so much. Our numbers are still great, in comparison… up to now. But the trend is not good, and the last thing we need is to wind up trying to force “reality” back in our lives when we’re not yet prepared for it. There are unfortunately too many examples of that. I hope B.C. doesn’t become another one.

View Original Post and All Comments on Facebook

August 8, 2020

The famous Stanford marshmallow experiment of 1972 dealt with delayed gratification. Basically, kids were offered two options… a treat right now, or wait a bit… and get double the treats. Note that the average age of the participants was around 4½… the idea being to figure out if something so simple as this version of “seeing the bigger picture” might be a useful predictor of future outcomes for these kids.

What they found was that those who were patient and would wait it out… turned out to have better outcomes… as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment and other measures. It stands to reason, at the most basic level. If you can’t see more than a move ahead, life looks a lot different. Indeed, consider a chess game where the opponent can’t think much past what they’re about to do. They move a piece, you take it. They move another piece, you take it. Jeez, this game is hard… and life, like chess, looks a lot different if you don’t consider that big picture. And while those kids were 4½, you see this thought-process in adults all the time.

I’ve talked about parking before, so let’s talk about it again for a moment. Back in the day, if you didn’t mind walking a few blocks, parking for the racetrack was a lot cheaper if you parked in some person’s driveway. You know the crowd, if you’ve ever approached the PNE from the residential side; the people all yelling “Parking! Parking!”, trying to hustle you into their driveways or garage for $10 or $8 or $5 or whatever.

There used to be this Italian guy… with a convenient driveway, very close to Renfrew St. Two bucks to park, and we parked there frequently. This was from April to late August, a few times a week.

Then… the actual PNE fair rolled around, and things got busier… and when we went to park, he’d jacked his prices… from $2 to $10. Hey buddy, it’s us. Nope, $10. Are you kidding? We’re your best customers! Nope, $10. OK, you know what… if you don’t let us park here for $2, we will never park here again.

The simple math… he’d make up that amount in less than two weeks of us parking in the future, plus the entire future ahead of that. Nope, $10 or forget it. OK dude, forget it.

And we never parked there again. What we did too, incessantly, is drive by his place slowly as if we were going to park, then wave at him and park somewhere else. Eventually we got tired of mocking him, or perhaps we got tired of his rude gestures towards us. A bit of both.

Hey, it’s summer! And I should be free to enjoy it as I like! Masks, social distancing, whatever, who cares! Live for the moment; the future, why worry… what’ll happen will happen and we’ll figure it out eventually. Que será, será.

Well, that’s how some people think. The same people who as kids, snagged the candy now instead of waiting a bit for twice as much.

It’s not just this summer. It’s next summer too. And the decades beyond that. Short-term pain, long-term gain.

It’s pretty obvious to some people, but what’s also pretty obvious is that some people are incapable of considering things on those terms. That’s what comes to mind as I see these numbers creep up. Let's get it together, people. There's no free parking.

View Original Post and All Comments on Facebook

August 5, 2020

The plot device known as “deus ex machina” was invented by the Greeks, ages ago. It literally translates to “god from the machine”, where back in ancient Greek theatre, the actors playing the role would be hanging from ropes, or some sort of machine, sweeping in to save the day, in whatever context was needed.

From a literary/artistic point of view, this has its detractors… for obvious reasons. It has the potential to wreck an otherwise excellent story with a convenient miracle to undo the entire struggle that led to that point. William Golding was criticized for this in “Lord of the Flies”… after building up an incredible narrative with intriguing and insightful and though-provoking ideas… suddenly, in a just a few pages, a ship arrives, rescues the boys, The End.

It’s not always that blunt, but you get the idea… and it fit well with the narratives of Greek Tragedies (and comedies)… and since then, it’s appeared all over the place. H.G. Wells’s “The War of the Worlds”… big, powerful aliens have the technology to travel across the universe with a battle fleet ready to destroy earth… until they themselves are destroyed by bacteria. Actually, almost identically, Will Smith’s aliens in “Independence Day” – and a computer virus.

You get the idea; it’s when something appears out of nowhere, just in the nick of time… to save the day, like divine intervention.

There are a few versions of this these days to consider. One, of course, is Donald Trump’s hope that this is what will resolve the giant mess his country finds itself in, much of which is his responsibility. Numerous times, he’s stated how it’ll just go away, like a miracle, burn itself out, vanish overnight, whatever. Unfortunately for him, the real world doesn’t operate that way; even the ancient Greeks knew that.

More recently, Trump did an interview with Jonathan Swan on HBO, and the entire thing is now available on YouTube. It is an astonishing 40 minutes of incoherent, delusional nonsense. And great kudos to Mr. Swan who, unlike pretty-much every other reporter, didn’t acquiesce to Donald Trump’s bullshit. He called him on it, repeatedly… though, as expected, when DT has no answer, he deflects away, onto the next incoherent, irrelevant point. The end result of it was asking yourself… what did I learn from that? The answer will be… not much. There was nothing factually useful in Trump’s responses, other than confirmation that he actually doesn’t understand what he’s talking about. You can’t accuse him of actually lying when he doesn’t actually get it. That much was made obvious when the problems with his fist-full of printouts were explained back to him.

Donald Trump has had a hovering “deus ex machina” all his life. First, it was daddy Fred who handheld his inept narcissist of a son through childhood and adolescence, paving and smoothing-out what otherwise would’ve (and should’ve) been a dead-end path.

Then it was Trump’s problem solvers, many of whom are now in prison, having themselves acquiesced to illegalities to keep their guy happy.

Then it was the Republican party and the White House and all the “yes-men” he could gather… and, as we’ve seen with textbook narcissists, once the “yes” turns into anything but… even a “maybe”, let alone a “no” – you’re out of there. The best people, tremendous people, beautiful people… exit stage left, with a knife in their back and a grade-school cheap insulting nickname to be Twittered about incessantly.

During the interview, you could see Trump looking around at his people. “Help”, his eyes pleaded. Help me. Rescue me. Where’s my DeM? It wouldn’t have been too presidential to stand up, rip off the mic and make a scene, like so many celebrities love doing when they’re asked a question they don’t like… no, The President had to sit through it, very uncomfortably in parts, and hang himself just a little bit more with every astonishing, baseless, irrelevant word.

There are no machines big enough, ropes strong enough, storylines believable enough… that would have a Deus sweep in to save the day for him. His mistakes will follow him into eternity, where maybe he can have a discussion with Deus Himself. That’s Who it’d take to make him understand.

View Original Post and All Comments on Facebook

July 28, 2020

A lot of discussions these days – the ones where you ultimately have to walk away, or at least agree to disagree because you can’t actually believe what you’re seeing/hearing/reading… end like this:

“Where on earth did you get that idea from?”

“I researched it.”

The “researched it” thing gets thrown around a lot these days, and as per the famous quote from The Princess Bride… “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Unless you compiled a literature review, and wrote (or at least, read) abstracts of the articles you read… and/or collected a random sample of sources and performed an independent analysis of their credibility… and, if not, at least looked into the sources of those articles (authors, publishers and, most importantly, funders) and dug into that… for fallacies, distortions or just plain-old, flat-out lies… you didn’t really research it.

And even if you didn’t do any of that, did you at least think about the source of the article and why the aforementioned list (author, publisher, funder) might have been motivated to distribute it? What about the people who refer or promote the article; what might be their motivations? This wouldn’t be research, but it would be at least a semblance of critical thinking that might serve to possibly justify your opinion with respect to the credibility of your sources.

To be clear, clicking a link to a video or an article from your finely-tuned, curated feed on Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat or TikTok or whatever flavor-of-the-day social media platform serves as your de-facto news source – no, that’s not research. In fact, given the way with which that information is making its way to you, it’s perhaps as opposite to research as you can get. It’s spoon-feeding you exactly what you want to hear, because then you’ll click on it and generate some revenue for someone far down the line. And, in doing so, pad your conformity-bias just a little bit more because something new agrees with it… and set you up to click the next related thing.

Digging around the internet is the place to do research these days, but what exactly you’re doing makes all the difference. There’s a lot of good stuff out there; it’s just a question of wading through the crap to find it, and using some methodology to achieve that.

Incidentally, Wikipedia… a relatively good place to find a pretty good summary of anything within the entire body of knowledge of human history — can be easily downloaded. As crazy as it sounds, it’s only 10GB (compressed)… which is 42GB uncompressed, ie plain text… which means all of it, like all of Wikipedia – every single article – fits easily onto a $15 64GB USB thumb drive. You can carry around with you the entire knowledge base of humanity on your keychain, with lots of extra room for pictures and family videos. Not a bad thing to carry around in case you’re shipwrecked in the middle of nowhere with your solar-powered laptop. Or abducted by aliens.

Yeah, aliens… they’re here, living among us. It’s true; I researched it.

View Original Post and All Comments on Facebook

Go to Top