Friday
Jun092017

A Magician's Trick: Focus Your Attention Here (not there)

Truth tellers are in rare supply.  I'm reasonably certain I've never met an infallible one.  Between lying to oneself, lying to others and just plain not being sure, people broadly suck at Exodus 20:16.

Sarah Huckabee Sander's statement "The president is not a liar" (June 8, 2017) can at best be critically interpreted as "please buy the idea that the president is trustworthy" and at worst as "I am lying to you right now."  

In this new age where suspicion trumps demonstrable facts, I see patterns from days of old, old misdirections polished and preformed once again.  And I wonder.  

Does Trump suggest the NFL fire protesting black athletes precisely at this moment because there is some other more importation conversation that could be happening?   That statistics show black Americans have legitimate reasons to distrust police?   Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico?  Helping our North American allies harmed by the string of hurricanes or Mexico’s earth quake?  State by state preexisting condition obesity coverage under Graham Cassidy for fat Americans (West Virginia 37.7% obese, coverage reduction and cost saving opportunity)?  Days of anti-diplomacy on North Korea?  The Gulf of Mexico has highest ever bathwater temperatures this year?

Or does he just want to be in each and every day's news for any reason at all.

Saturday
Jun032017

Wonder Woman

First:  The movie Wonder Woman is a great summer hit movie.  Visually stunning.  Awesome fun.  Not a fan of hydrogen based poison gas nonsense (death by tritium ethane?  Really?  Gold bullets are cheaper.)  Much hoopla has been made about how the new Wonder Woman movie (DC universe) feels like a great Marvel movie summer blockbuster.

I disagree on the following account:

(1)  The lead character is female.  (2) Several females in the film have more than five lines of dialogue (3)  Not every female character is eye candy (4) Female characters actually talk to other female characters and not about off screen men (5)  Several female characters have fairly fleshed out character development that isn't just about flesh.  (6) The film isn't covert about sexism - male centric sexism is blatantly present in parts of the film.

Wonder Woman isn't a show of feminism by itself (it has almost nothing to overtly say) but rather in comparison to films that lack the normalism of women that can and do.  An approach that almost reminds me of an Agathy Christy novel where the inability of a lady to divorce and remarry without her lord's approval must be understood for the reader to solve the murder.  Patty Jenkins, well done effort for direction in any case.

Thursday
May252017

Vanilla Wood

My twin brother has been salvaging wood from the farm we grew up in.  Big beautiful irregular slab cuts of trees circa deeply aged 1860. 

My children seem to do yearly chin up's on the towel bars and rip them free of of the walls in the bathrooms - So I decieded to take one of the farm slab pieces and finish and spar varnish it and then mount towel bars on it.  Tied to the wall with 6 x 1/4 inch bolts and it seems as sturdy as the wall itself.  Perhaps it will withstand the onslaught of winged monkies that are my brood. 

The thing is, I don't know what kind of wood it is.  My brother says oak and it well could be.  It smells like madagacar vanilla when it is cut, with hints of burbon.  Not the usual oak aroma.  The flavor industry does convert lignin into vanilin - so perhaps this slab has done the same.

Monday
May222017

The Trump Market Rally

One year change in Dow Jones Industrial Average (US): About 1.16x increase

One year change in SP Pan Africa BMI:  About 1.17x increase

One year change in FTSE 100 (London Stock Exchange 100):  About  1.22x increase

One year change in SP Latin America 40:  About 1.25x

One year change in NASDAQ (US):  About 1.27x increase

One Year change in DAX (Europe):  About 1.28x increase

One year change in KWSEIDX (Kuwiat stock exchange):  About 1.32x increase

One year change in Nikkei 255 (Japan):  About 1.37x increase

Huh?

Friday
May122017

One of Lifes Secrets: Almost Everyone Can 

My foray into robotics reminded me a few things.  First, experts are nice, but helpful experts are rare wonderful amazing humans in short supply.  Second, read the instructions.  Third, effort alone can overcome the near impossible.  Fourth, good technology is usually high in ease of use.  Fifth, sheer perfection earns points from a judge but doesn't win awards from the universe at large.  Sixth, 95% of the specialized skills an expert uses day to day can be fit on a four page cheat sheet available for purchase from various educational outlets.  (or try the internet - fountain of both human knowledge and babble)

I guess what I'm saying is almost everyone can do almost anything.  Just like almost every baby can learn to speak Japanese, almost anyone can learn robotics, mathematics, music, paint å la Tim's Vermeer, do rudimentary echolocation, computer programming, learn the basics of medicine or how to be a better human.  It all requires time and effort and the uncertain pain of many fumbles... but we humans can sort it out and in pretty short order.


Which makes me wonder why we don't.  Our society seems intent on stagnant expert exaltation - that that has benefits and costs.  The last time I went to a doctor with a running injury I was X-rayed for micro fractures and prescribed ibuprofen... very very expensive ibuprofen.   Having only every taken ibuprofen for fevers, the use for pain management was a revelation.  And I still feel stupid for paying for an expert to get exactly the same advice that my wife gave me.

I think our society's expert and specialist obsession costs us too. The mundane steals the time and lives of experts, and ever increases the cost of their consultation.  Probably thats why happy helpful ones are increasingly rare flowers.


You don't have to be Anne Leibovitz to chance snap a fantastic lovely photo with a smart phone.  You don't have to be an expert to get joy from learning and doing something new.  Don't expect perfection, just cross the finish line and you might be surprised that you are perfectly content with the result.  There is something marathon-sublime in starting a project beyond one's present abilities and finishing it. 


Perhaps the biggest secret of nearly every expert:  You wouldn't want just anyone doing this, and it can be tedious, and mistakes can be costly, but actually what I do is not difficult.

 

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