Worthwhile Reading and Viewing

Much political anger is based on attributing to opponents views that they don’t actually hold, according to this study, summarized and discussed on twitter here.

Paul Graham, who himself writes some interesting essays, says:

No one who writes essays would be surprised by this. When people attack an essay you’ve written, 95% of the time they do it by making up something you didn’t actually say, and then attacking that.

The skill of surgeons varies tremendously, with bottom quartile surgeons having over 4x as many complications as the best surgeons in the same hospital…so says this study.  And surgeons are keenly aware of who is good & who is bad – their rankings of others are very accurate.  Summarized and discussed on twitter here, where there is also a reference to the classic study  showing 10X range among programmers, and another study measuring the impact of managers on revenue performance in the game industry.

Some innovation stories from small US manufacturers, and a shop-floor driven tooling innovation at GE Aviation.

Speaking of tools, here’s a study suggesting that using mechanical tools improves language skills.

The limits of narrative, at Quillette.

Ryan Peterson, CEO of the digital freight forwarder Flexport, discovered an AI tool that lets you create art without being an artist, and has been having fun with it.

The Invasion of Safe Spaces

The most disgusting post on Twitter – among a whole library of disgusting posts created by the largely insane freaks who inhabit that archipelago of the Internet – was a picture of a hulking guy in a dress, boasting of his achievement as a transsexual, of scaring a woman into turning around and leaving the bathroom almost the minute that she (most likely a genuine XX female) walked in and spotted she/him/shim/it immediately, unconvincingly masquerading as a delicate flower of femininity.

What Hulking Guy In A Dress didn’t know, or perhaps really didn’t care, so eager was he to count coup in the Trans Sweepstakes and make a harvest of likes on Twitter, was that his presence as a Hulking Guy In An Empty Room sent every antenna warning of danger vibrating like one of those sensors around the Pacific ocean which send out tsunami warnings after an earthquake. This acute sense of danger has been instilled for decades into every sensible woman over the age of fifteen or so – that there are situations which you turn around and avoid if you value your life, physical health, and sanity. You do not get into an elevator alone if there is a lone man already in it – especially a fit-looking and vaguely menacing man. (Male senior citizens toting an oxygen tank are probably OK, though.) You do not walk out alone to your car in a darkened parking lot or structure at midnight, not without your having store security or a gaggle of co-workers walk with you, or you are carrying something concealed of a caliber starting with the numeral 4. You do not hitchhike wearing Daisy Dukes and a crop-top, unless you really want to personally discover some weird and probably fatal (to you) sexual kinks on the part of the sickos offering you a ride.

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Titanic Metaphors

It’s been 110 years since the RMS Titanic sank on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.  The event has been a prolific source of books, movies–and metaphors.  Titanic has often been viewed as a metaphor for the complacency and arrogance of Western civilization before 1914, a symbol of technological overreach and hubris.  (The Onion had some fun with the Titanic-as-metaphor theme)

I think that there are a couple of other Titanic-related metaphors which are worth considering in our present era:

‘Working Cape Race’…around noon on April 14, Titanic received wireless messages warning of icebergs. The captain altered course to the south, a path believe to be free of ice, but maintained a speed of 22 knots.  That evening, senior wireless operator Jack Phillips,  was dealing with a flood of messages from passengers to friends ashore, when the SS California attempted to broadcast another ice warning to ships in the area.  The message was broken off by Phillips with “Stop Sending! I am working Cape Race.”  (‘working’ means ‘communicating with’, Cape Race was a Marconi Company shore station)

Not long afterwards, Titanic hit the iceberg.

Apparently the term ‘Working Cape Race’ has been adopted by some people to refer to those who are too preoccupied with the task at hand to perceive very important obstacles and hazards.

The phrase often seems apt these days–for example, when tv networks focus on the Johnny Depp defamation case when there are plenty of truly critical national and world issues to talk about.  I’m sure you can think of many more examples.

Progressive Flooding.  The compartmentalization which made the Titanic supposedly unsinkable obviously did not work.  One reason was that the iceberg was hit at an angle such that multiple compartments were torn open; the other reason was the phenomenon of progressive flooding.  This is a nautical architecture & operations term referring to the phenomenon where one compartment gets flooded…leading not only to the ship settling somewhat in the water, but also to a change in trim, namely, bow down…which can lead to other compartments overtopping their watertight bulkheads and spilling water into previously-safe compartments.

Again, I think the concept is sadly applicable to some of our political and social problems.  Failures in one aspect of society can lead to failures in another aspect…which can feed back to that first aspect, making it still worse…and so one.  Malign positive feedback, that is, a network of interconnected vicious circles.

For example, long-term unemployment can lead to an increase in drug addiction…both of which can lead to dysfunctional families…which drives reduced educational achievement for kids.  That reduced educational achievement drives further unemployment.

Discuss, if so inclined.

 

Erasing Women

Well, it’s really kind of sad – that erasing biological XX-chromosome no-kidding 100 percent female women seems the ultimate endpoint of early 21st century popular prog-thought, as mad and illogical as that might seem as an ambition, or rather an idée fixe. The ancient jape of a fox hunt described as ‘the unspeakable in hot pursuit of the inedible’ comes to mind, only this is the deranged in pursuit of the unachievable. As little as I think of the long-time and loud professional Feminists-with-a-capital-F (or LT&LPF(F) as I call them), and their tendency to view all men as potential rapist and abusers, I would have expected them to be assiduous in protesting for the actual physical safety of biological women in women-only spaces like restrooms, locker rooms, battered woman shelters, hospital wards and prisons. Alas, they would seem to have fixated on the availability of reproductive health or as the rest of us call it, abortion, as the great fight for the LT&LPF(F); the hill upon which they wish to see fetal humans die. I mean; what the hell, LT&LPF(F) – you look away from the physical safety of real, no-kidding vulnerable women … and focus on the rights, ways and means of killing fetal humans. Good job, sisters. (Not.)

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