Sunday, February 04, 2018

The Gender Balance of The New York Times Best Seller List

I was struck but how disproportionately male my reading genres are - I ran across a comment decrying Infinite Jest as one of those 'jerk off bro books' - so started examining some of my reading habits. It should have obvious to me when I was reading Beckett 15 years ago, and a woman I was chatting with not understanding who or why,  said that it "must be a guy thing." I still love some science fiction and will finish off the few remaining Dick and Vonnegut I haven't read, and the non-fiction I read will, for now, stay focused on systems sciences and programming, but I have stopped Infinite Jest - great writing, but the story devolved into themes around drug rehab and  cross-dressing amputee assassins - and I am now on one a search for authors. I'll start maybe with Austen and Highsmith - I loved the Ripley series, although the genre is lopsided male - and will peruse the Nobel list as one avenue for better female representation.

The Gender Balance of The New York Times Best Seller List

Monday, January 15, 2018

Karl Ove Knausgaard Answers the Proust Questionnaire | Vanity Fair

Reading this piece only makes me want to read his works more than I do now. This was the first:

Which living person do you most admire? I found Barack Obama’s dignity as a president remarkable, and even more so when I think about it these days.

With more responses that I so identified with, and then maybe not, but, still...

Source:Karl Ove Knausgaard Answers the Proust Questionnaire | Vanity Fair

The Patriarchs Are Falling. The Patriarchy Is Stronger Than Ever. - The New York Times

The US, as a traditional work-oriented culture, is unlikely to every move forward easily on social welfare and equality. It's a long, uphill battle, and for every two steps forward, there will another step back.

The culture is the problem, not women. In gender-equal countries, life is focused on quality of life for both men and women, while in masculine countries, as per Hofstede's cultural dimensions, life is work and success-oriented but focuses on male success and as such discriminates against women.

My spouse and I often consider moving to a country where we would better fit, either Sweden or the Netherlands, and not suffer living in such a moronic and backward country. The fight for equality is only going to be much harder in a traditional country, that's all. I think the fight is a worthy one, but in the words of Prince, "If you like to fight, you're a double-drag fool, I'm goin' to another life, how 'bout you?"

The Patriarchs Are Falling. The Patriarchy Is Stronger Than Ever. - The New York Times

Some Thoughts on Social Media Is Making Us Dumber

I don't think social media is making anyone dumber, but mass hysteria and fringe ideas seem to be more prevalent, even if we are only more aware of them than before. Anyway, it's a good piece, focused on a very nuanced speech, that was turned into something simplistic.

The article: Social Media Is Making Us Dumber. Here’s Exhibit A. - The New York Times

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Review for The Edge of the World: A Visual Adventure to the Most Extraordinary Places on Earth

The Edge of the World: A Visual Adventure to the Most Extraordinary Places on EarthThe Edge of the World: A Visual Adventure to the Most Extraordinary Places on Earth by The Editors of Outside Magazine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've enjoyed the fantastic photography of Outside for decades, back from when I first got involved with fitness, and these photos, along with the accompanying vignettes, are some of the most awe-inspiring shots you will ever see. More than the acrobats, and I am certainly not one of them, the sheer immensity and subtlety of nature brought tears to my eyes, many times. Just wow!

View all my reviews

Saturday, December 09, 2017

What Makes for Ideal Managers?


Anyone that knows me that I read a great deal, and one of the topics I focus on is management and leadership. It has meant attending B-school, reading books on management, as well as reading numerous articles and studies - I definitely prefer to base my ideas on statistical proof - so I think I have a good sense of what research says excellent management and leadership means. After reading a blog post that resonated with me, but I thought overly-specific, I decided to abstract that article's rules into something generic, add some needed items, then convert those items into practice.
  • Making sure one's team has adequate tools, resources, contacts, and training
  • Being a leader, and in that providing vision, expectations, goals, and standards, as well communicating that clearly
  • In one's self, exemplifying excellence, being a role model, maintaining a positive image, having personality and charm, while earning respect
  • In one's team, having excellence, cohesion, friendship, and camaraderie
  • Developing one's people, having a concern for their welfare, providing praise and encouragement, and listening
  • For the business, service, strategic goal-setting, clear communication, protecting the team, improving efficiency, managing requirements and resources

The only issue is that this list is a bit of a 'kitchen-sink-laundry-list' including everything without concern for the appropriateness. When I look through my history, very few managers have been what I saw as truly excellent. For other items, they were not specifically a manager's duty but were provided by the organization, such as with providing training.

The Source

How to Tell If You're a Great Manager:
  • Do I know what is expected of me at work? 
  • Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  • At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  • In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  • Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  • Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
  • At work, do my opinions seem to count?
  • Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
  • Are my co-workers committed to doing high-quality work?
  • Do I have a best friend at work?
  • In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
  • This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

Sunday, October 01, 2017

NY Times Opinion by Devorah Baum: Jewishness

In response to a NY Times piece in the Opinion section We Are All Jew-ish Now, with the synopsis "Jewishness” can be the sensibility of whoever feels unsure of who they are — a bit peculiar, a bit funny", I wrote the following:

Comment #1

The more basic one, that most Jews would agree about, is Jewish means being of Jewish ancestry. Beyond that, Jews themselves think that being Jewish means remembering the Holocaust, being ethical, working for justice and equality, and for being intellectually curious.

Personally, as someone who is married to someone of Jewish ancestry, and whose friends over the past four decades have been almost exclusively Jewish, I've sometimes wondered why. My own musings, based on certain facts of behavior, is that Jews, especially the ones that I know, are highly intelligent, highly verbal, and interactive communicators. Conversation is rarely about taking turns and has always been a bit more intense and intellectual, but then again, that's me too.

Comment #2

In a previous comment, I wrote about the more salient aspects of Jewishness, but one that I have mused about was triggered by an article on The Matrix movie. I don't remember the actual reference, but it had to do with perception. I don't have the original article, but I imagined it had something to do with the multiplicity of perception.

My own personal take has more to do with wondering why all of my major personal attachments have been with Jews. The most obvious reason is that we share high intelligence, along with a strong verbal ability and an interactive style, but I have a few more personal ones. Maybe it is because we have a feeling of being successful outsiders. Maybe it is the strong concern with ethics, justice, and equality. Maybe it's my mitochondrial DNA line, of the same branch as 30% of Jews, although, in fact, I know that my spouse is not from that branch. Who knows?

Comment #3

I can see the point of being the successful outsider, even though one is an insider by intellect or ability, and one's outsider perception can lead to great insight, comedy being one venue. It is certainly possible for many of us to experience this sense of not quite fitting in, but the internet has had the opposite effect, making insiders of the fringe. Although our connectivity can bring together diverse and positive elements, allow us to find people, ideas and materials that were not available locally, it is also how misogynists, racists, and antisemites find their brethren.

The Gender Balance of The New York Times Best Seller List

I was struck but how disproportionately male my reading genres are - I ran across a comment decrying Infinite Jest as one of those 'jerk...