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Random Thoughts

Words apparently hurt as much as Sticks and Stones

By now, if you’ve been paying, you may have heard the controversy over Dave Chappelle’s Netflix comedy show, “Sticks and Stones”. If you haven’t you should first watch the show and then look up all the commentary.

From the title to the content and from beginning to end that one comedy show exposes the sad state of the American psyche and American culture today. Take the title for instance. If you’re old enough you’ll remember the old saying of, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me.” This saying was a parent’s response to teach a kid that words are just what they are… words. Just because someone calls you names doesn’t mean you are the names that they call you. Maybe it was a lame retort but it did teach children that there will always be people that try to define you and it’s up to you to ignore that crap and define yourself.

It was also a way to teach kids that using violence in the face of criticism of any kind is not a proper response. So many kids would lash out violently when called certain names (Could I be talking about myself here? Hmmm.) that they needed to be taught to have a tougher skin. Words might hurt your feelings but they do not actually cause you physical harm. It’s appropriate to defend yourself with other words and not your fist.

This brings me back to Dave Chappelle’s comedy show on Netflix. He finds the humor in everything. Nothing is safe. If you’ve grown up being protected from “offensive” thoughts and you watch this you may want to curl up into the fetal position or lash out at Chappelle. But you need to watch it to toughen up your skin. These are just words. Dave Chappelle has no power to do anything to you other than make you laugh. Sometimes at others and sometimes at our own hypocrisy.

One of the best bits of social commentary came when he was talking about guns. In a nutshell he said that nothing will happen with the laws in the United States over guns until every African American signs up and obtains a legal firearm. Then and only then will the government rise up to make laws to restrict ownership or take them away outright. The joke being that everyone is afraid of a black person with a gun, legal or otherwise. Regardless of what you think of guns the way this message is delivered is genius and hilarious. When he delivers the line you both laugh and go, “Hmmmm, crap he’s probably right!”

Chappelle’s “Sticks and Stones” was not right or left leaning comedy show. It was squarely down the middle and eviscerating everything we think of ourselves. Watch it!

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Random Thoughts Technology

Google continues down the path to shitty search

I stopped using Google for my everyday search a long time ago. As the years rolled on I started to find that their search engine was trying to be too smart. I use Gmail and an Android phone and increasingly my search results were either what Google’s algorithm thought I wanted versus what I was actually looking for.

I’m not the type of person that seeks out only what I already believe. I like to find opinions that are not my own in order to broaden my knowledge of a topic. But, Google has been fine tuning their search to feed me information that I don’t want or that I already have.

I’ve been looking more and more into the science behind the low-carb ketogenic diet. I’ve been living my life this way for quite some time and I was interested in finding out why I am the way I am. As such there are a bunch of people I follow in Twitter and Instagram that provide information on the topic.

Today I ran across a tweet that purported to show that a simple search on Google for “humans are omnivores” provided misinformation by PETA. So, naturally, the first thing I did was head over to google.com and typed in the search. Sure enough the information box at the top contained the misinformation by PETA. Many people don’t look beyond that box for their answers and if you’re querying the Google Assistant this is also the answer you’ll receive. This search result is not anywhere near relevant to the query. The actual PETA link is #4 down the list. It’s not even the top actual search result. How did it become the de facto answer to this query?

Here is the identical search on Duck Duck Go. A stupid name for a search engine but it seems to give me far superior results. Note that the PETA link is nowhere to be found. It’s not even on the first page of the search results.

This result lead me down the rabbit hole and I ran into this article on fee.org that highlights how Google has changed it’s search results to bury alternate medical opinion sites. Why would they do this? Google purports to not be a publisher. But yet they are indeed acting like one by editing search results by what they think is relevant. This cannot be a result of “machine learning” or of the algorithm automatically bubbling up more popular results. If this were the case the sites getting buried would not have had the traffic they had to begin with.

Google search is broken. It’s been broken for a long time. Google itself seems to be broken. I’ve moved off of as many Google services as is convenient. Duck Duck Go is my search engine of choice and I switched to Firefox for my web browser (Chrome is still necessary for a few things. Not many but some). Gmail is still superior to other e-mail clients at filtering spam. My Pixel 3 is still a superior phone (for me at least) to other phones out there. I know there are alternatives but none of them work for me.

All the services you use that are “free” need to be looked at with a critical eye. You can’t automatically trust the information they’re feeding you. Thinking for yourself and being skeptical is more important today than ever before.

Categories
Random Thoughts

What’s happening in Hong Kong is simply amazing

This could never happen in the United States. Hong Kong had an estimated 1.7 million people out marching in the streets… PEACEFULLY. If this took place anywhere in the states I doubt that it could go off in such a manner. There are too many trouble makers here, on both sides of every issue, and some will pose as a protester just to have a license to riot.

Sunday’s action, billed as a return to the peaceful origins of the leaderless protest movement, drew more than 1.7 million people, making it one of the largest rallies since the protests began about three months ago, according to organisers the Civil Human Rights Front.
It ended a weekend of protests that, as of early Monday, saw no major confrontations with police for the first time in weeks.

Yahoo! News

Again, this amazes me and I have a new respect for the people of Hong Kong.

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Random Thoughts

Mythological Woodstock never existed

Mythological Marker

I grew up hearing about Woodstock and always thought it to be a crock of crap. Knowing the Baby Boomers as I do I knew there was no way in hell it was anywhere near the event they believed it to be. It was all myth or in the lexicon of today, “Fake News.”

This Thursday through Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival, famously billed as “Three Days of Peace and Music.” It might be more accurately described as four days of mud and myth-making, although the latter has stretched on for decades.
For an event described as an Aquarian exposition, its origins were remarkably mercenary. Two men, one a pharmaceutical heir, placed an ad in The New York Times: “Young men with unlimited capital looking for interesting, legitimate investment opportunities and business propositions.” They eventually partnered with a record company executive and the promoter of the relatively small Miami Pop Festival. When plans for a music studio in Woodstock, New York, went awry, the quartet settled on the idea of an art and music festival.

The Federalist
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Random Thoughts

Moral Superiorists are the new master race

Reason.com

This moral superiorist movement continues on their path towards the eradication of the impure. Sarah Silverman, whose comedy has always been built on the far edge of being offensive, finally suffered the attack of the moral superiorists and was fired from a movie just prior to its production. Her sin? She once did a skit where she donned blackface.

Sarah Silverman, a staunch supporter of liberal causes and of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, is one of the biggest liberals in entertainment. She supports all the things today’s moral superiorists support. But the one thing you can’t have in this new world of the moral superiorist is have a past.

You can never make a mistake. You must be pure. You can’t slight anyone at any time unless they disagree with the moral superiorist ideology. Then not only is it okay to slight them but it’s okay to destroy them. Because in this new world of the moral superiorist purity in thought is paramount. They are the new master race.

Categories
Random Thoughts Technology

I wish I was smart enough to understand the problem and the solution

I took computer science and had to learn combinatorics and boolean functions. I’ll have to file this under the, “If You Don’t Use It You Lose It” part of my brain. I just don’t remember anything beyond the basics to understand the problem or the solution. I should have kept studying.

A paper posted online this month has settled a nearly 30-year-old conjecture about the structure of the fundamental building blocks of computer circuits. This “sensitivity” conjecture has stumped many of the most prominent computer scientists over the years, yet the new proof is so simple that one researcher summed it up in a single tweet.

Wired.com

Here’s a link to the proof.

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1907.00847.pdf

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Books Random Thoughts

The relevance and prescience of “Free to Choose”

I just finished Milton Friedman’s book “Free to Choose”. This book was published back in 1979 when the country went through one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression (Seems to keep happening doesn’t it?). Comically Friedman had the opinion that socialism had been adequately relegated as a failed ideology but what he failed to foresee is the Millennial Generation. He did not know that the parenting philosophies of the Baby Boom Generation would bring back the cycle of socialist utopian ideas.

Given the current state of the nation and the opinions of people under the age of 35, I doubt Milton Friedman is discussed much in political science or economics classes in high school or universities. He should be. This book should be in every curriculum.

The final conclusion in the book says it all.

The two ideas of human freedom and economic freedom working together came to their greatest fruition in the United States. Those ideas are still very much with us. We are all of us imbued with them. They are part of the very fabric of our being. But we have been straying from them. We have been forgetting the basic truth that the greatest threat to human freedom is the concentration of power, whether in the hands of government or anyone else. We have persuaded ourselves that is is safe to grant power, provided it is for good purposes.

Fortunately, we are waking up. We are again recognizing the dangers of an overgoverned society, coming to understand that good objectives can be perverted by bad means, that reliance on the freedom of people to control their own lives in accordance with their own values is the surest way to achieve the full potential of a great society.

Fortunately, also, we are as a people still free to choose which way we should go — whether to continue along the road we have been following to ever bigger government, or to call a halt and change direction.

Milton Friedman – Free to Choose

Consider the democrat presidential candidate debates that just occurred this past week. How many of them stand for personal AND economic freedom? Every single candidate wants more control over your life and your wallet. Sure, it’s all in the guise of doing good things for the “middle class” and the “poor”. But that’s the danger. Centralized control over the distribution of wealth only leads to abuse. Human beings are fundamentally flawed that way.

That’s not to say anything is better on the republican side either. They want to do the same thing through different means. The budget deal that just passed the house and senate is proof that few republicans are interested in restraint with our tax dollars.

We need to ask ourselves what has the ever expanding government done for us? Has it liberated us to pursue happiness? Has it made life better? With all the money we spend on war, on education, on the environment, on subsidies for business and the poor have we ever seen an improvement? It seems to me the larger government has grown and the more money we spend on all these things have only made things worse. Maybe it’s time for a change in direction.

Amazon link to Free to Choose

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Random Thoughts

I’m Gen X… you’re welcome

Is it really that easy to generalize and lump a generation of people into a group with similar traits? A couple of articles caught my attention today in Forbes and Bloomberg that talks about Generation X and Generation Z and I think, for the most part, ring true.

Gen-X comprised of latchkey kids and the children of two working parents. They were the first group to experience living with divorced parents. Gen-Xers bridged the gap between minimal technology and the beginning of the tech boom. They lived through the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

Forbes.com

While the Boomers and the Millennials are changing the culture of the nation for the worse Generation Z may be the firewall that prevents our nation’s total descent into the dustbin of history.

Where the Millennials are easily propagandized Generation Z seem to be more skeptical. Where the Millennials had to be protected and have everything explained to them Generation Z likes to figure it out themselves. Where Millennials continually need to feel appreciated Generation Z doesn’t much seem to care. There is a pragmatism to this new generation that hopefully will permeate for generations to come.

And although Gen X didn’t agree on everything (The Cure or The Smiths? Nirvana or Pearl Jam?), in recent years they’ve rallied around one defining idea: Baby boomers are a bunch of self-indulgent narcissists, and their helicopter parenting transformed their millennial kids into entitled mini-mes. Generation X parents have purposefully tried to raise a different kind of kid, influenced by their own upbringing.
“Boomers really wanted it to be easier for their children, and they succeeded,” said Dorsey, the Gen Z consultant. “When we interview Gen X, they tell us they don’t want our kids to end up like entitled millennials.”

Bloomberg.com

Oh, and who do we have to thank for this? My generation. Generation X. You’re welcome.

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Books Random Thoughts

Back to reading books

It’s been quite some time since I finished a book. The last couple of years had me traveling and doing other work that kept me super busy. I kept reading during those times but it was really hit or miss and a tough slog.

Since I decided to leave the family business I surprisingly still didn’t have a lot of time for reading. Seems there are plenty of things to do even without going into an office 5 days a week.

But, the month of July I made a concerted effort to get back on the reading track. I get a lot of great information from books that I wouldn’t get otherwise. And if I’m not getting information I’m at the very least gaining someone else’s perspective.

So during this month I was able to finish the following books.

The Pioneers by David McCullough

I never knew the history of Ohio and how it was settled. I’m sure I won’t retain all the details in this book but it was interesting to discover the who, what, and why. It’s also so easy to forget that the Midwest was, not all that long ago, the western frontier of the United States.

How to Fake Your Way Into Getting Rich on Instagram by Trey Ratcliff

World famous photographer Trey Ratcliff rips the veil off several “big” influencers on Instagram and illustrates how he believes they were able to amass a large “following” (in quotes because their followers are most likely fake) and how they used that to make themselves money. I believe this book is an attempt to shame Instagram and other social networks like it to better police their users in order to prevent fraud and to stop cheapening the accounts with an actual following. Ratcliff lets you know what services they used and how they used them in order to pump up their numbers. It’s always good to know how the fakery is done.

The Ketogenic Bible

I have already read other books on the science behind low carbohydrate diets. I was keenly interested in this one because it focuses on the Ketogenic Diet in particular. Most people who know me know that I watch what I eat. Meaning that I watch the food as I shovel it into my mouth. But, I’ve never subscribed to a particular diet. I just eat when I’m hungry and I eat whatever I feel like in the moment. The reason this piqued my interest is because for over 2 decades I’ve been living the lifestyle of what people are calling Intermittent Fasting. I stumbled into this all on my own. That combined with my lack of a sweet tooth means that I also tend to eat foods that are low in carbohydrates. So I was curious to know the science behind how these processes work inside the body. It was my belief that I slip in and out of ketosis (not to be confused with ketoacidosis) very easily because of how long I’ve been unknowingly practicing intermittent fasting. And I believe I was correct!

All the links above are Amazon Affiliate links. So thanks if you choose to buy. I do need an income source now you know.