Sunday, December 20, 2015

Goodreads | I find it shocking that more people... — My Struggle Q&A

Molly Rookwood asked:
I find it shocking that more people haven't commented on the title. I have searched through articles, and while they mention the obvious connection to Hitler, none of them ask about it in detail. WHY would he call it that, and what point is he trying to make? I can't bring myself to read the book, brilliant though it may be, because the title is too horrifying for me to move past.
I think it is like satire, it that can have a double meaning, a differentiation from the original. While in one, Hitler "outlines his political ideology and future plans for Germany", the other has Knausgard describing the "banalities and humiliations of his life." It is in fact a mock of Hitler. As for his point, that is the question that you need to answer, since literature is rarely so cut-and-dried as to plainly state its meaning, but provides one via interpretation.

This is the quote regarding Hitler's Mein Kampf from the article that Dramatika links:
Yes. It is very fascinating and interesting but it is a very boring book by a very indignant man. It's only interesting in light of what happened. In itself it's almost worthless. The strange thing and the thing you can't understand is the hatred towards the Jews. It's so extremely intense. Also, his recollection of his upbringing and his father and his mother is as untrue as it can be. I was interested in this as a representation of the self – that's what I was writing about.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Farce Awakens - The New York Times

In response to a Krugman article:
Why do conservatives react so extremely, so ignorantly? Studies have pointed to several traits more common in conservatives. Maybe it is the fear of change, or maybe disgust at the foreign and unknown, or the greater fear of death. Regardless, about major issues, they are almost always wrong, hysterically shrieking while they drag us into their puritan, militaristic, know-nothing existence.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Review: Saga, Volume 4

Saga, Volume 4Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This series is relevant to the concerns of our day, and really seems to resonate with women. Focused on two (2) beings from different worlds that have a child together and ultimately told from the child's eyes, the series is funny, irreverent and a bit crazy. I love the series, and simply devour the books when they arrive.

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Review: The Futurological Congress: From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy

The Futurological Congress: From the Memoirs of Ijon TichyThe Futurological Congress: From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy by StanisÃ…‚aw Lem
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get into the rhythm...

This satire has a particular patter, very fast, and once you go with it, the ribald 'ride' becomes immensely enjoyable.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Productivity: Working Harder for Someone Else's Riches...

A response, to the article Work Policies May Be Kinder, but Brutal Competition is Not:
You were making a point that I had hoped you would complete, that some of us choose to "play in the tournament", and some of us do not. Tough work environments are fine for the people that choose to work in them - that is not true either, because those same environments have ingrained biases - but I imagine most do not choose to be treated inhumanely. People that would choose to have a positive work-life balance, or have priorities outside of work, e.g., sport, charity, friends, will be trampled for the profits of someone else. They will be tracked, harangued, and stressed. I do not welcome the new serfdom-like piece work that technology enables.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Rise of Phone Reading

A response to The Rise of Phone Reading:
Way back when, when the Palm Pilot was ascendant, I would try to read books on my devices, but never found the experience satisfactory, nor did I succeed. It did not help that I was trying to read James Joyce's Ulysses. Now, with a large screen Samsung Note II, or alternatively an iPad, and the Kindle app, I am finishing up on Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon, an equally large and dense work as Ulysses, but an altogether enjoyable experience.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

How the Skills Gap Is Affecting IT Teams

This is a response to an article, How the Skills Gap Is Affecting IT Teams:
The problem is manifold, but other types of specialization are treated as normal, e.g., doctors and lawyers, and even then there is so much variation and incompetence. Maybe technology itself is the problem, since the work is not easy enough to hand off to a monkey or to automate completely, yet. Maybe people are just comparing normal to great, similar in ways to expecting an average person to understand graduate level research. It is unrealistic to expect that the average [software team, developer, organization] can implement that exceptional [technology implementation] here. We can't all be above above average, let alone great.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Accomplishments of Mayor de Blasio (as of December 2014)

I realized that de Blasio's accomplishments go unnoticed, primarily because affluent white people do not benefit from them. The benefits the mayor has brought are often corrections to the abuses of Bloomberg's, along with prior mayors', policies:


  • The NYPD conducts fewer stop-and-frisks.
  • The city dropped its stop-and-frisk appeal.
  • NYPD officers are starting to use body cameras.
  • New York police officers are being retrained.
  • Carrying a small amount of weed will probably result in a ticket, not an arrest.
  • Teenage inmates are no longer put in solitary confinement at Rikers Island.
  • The city has settled with the “Central Park Five.”


  • There are 23 new homeless shelters in the city
  • There's a new rent subsidy program for homeless families.
  • More public housing units are available to homeless families.


  • Pedestrian deaths are at a record low.
  • The speed limit was lowered from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour.
  • There are harsher penalties for taxi drivers involved in accidents.


  • New York has universal pre-K.
  • Troubled city schools are no longer being shut down.
  • City schools are getting more art teachers.
  • 71 percent of city employees have new contracts.
  • New York has a higher living wage, and it applies to more workers.
  • New York businesses must provide paid sick leave.


  • Fourth of July fireworks returned to the East River.
  • The mayor doesn't march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
  • Unused scaffolding came down at NYCHA housing.
  • The Citi Bike system is expanding, and getting more expensive.
  • Neighborhood parks are being revamped.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750

Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 by Jonathan I. Israel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent book and ideas, with some flaws I found irritating. First, some quotes are provided without translations - I wish my French was better, and i have no real understanding of Dutch - and it would have been nice to link to the translation, if not had it displayed in the text. Second, the history is very detailed, a bit too much for my taste, and I would have preferred a somewhat higher-level view of the actions of the various actors in the enlightenment drama.

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Is the current freelance/sharing economy tenable considering human dignity?

A post on On-Demand Workers: ‘We Are Not Robots’, subtitled, Is Technology Liberating or Squeezing the New Class of Freelance Labor?

My personal experience with Uber has been pleasant, albeit troubling. We recently visited friends in California, and the male partner touted how it was great, that he knew of a driver who could piece together work, and could work whenever he wanted to for some extra cash, but I met a driver like this. He had a masters degree in computer science (CS) from a US university, but as an immigrant could not find a sponsor; he had not worked in CS for several years. His primary job was as a dispatcher for the shipping industry, but also had small side jobs picking up mail for non-resident Chinese homeowners who lived elsewhere, and as an Uber driver. 
Although my friend painted this situation as freedom, it sounded a bit more like desperation...
A poster responded, in typical WSJ reader fashion, that he made his own choices, to which my response was:
@Karen Kelly Sandke, yours is the typical right-wing attitude, that we are all free agents, but most people are not free, and most people, from the middle class on down continue to be impoverished by policies that disenfranchise them. This is no different. 
As for feeling sorry, I don't imagine you feel much sympathy or empathy in general, but that is not the point, it is the lack of overall humanity and dignity for people.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Response: Paging Robert Burns by Krugman

Along these lines, from a recent release, and supportive of your post:
"Previous portraits of Davos delegates as uprooted jetsetters or global networkers easily overlook their influence on society. Our findings reveal that the forum actively shifts the burden for the solution of problems from governments and corporations to individual consumers, with significant personal and societal costs," the authors conclude.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Should Schools Teach Personality?

A response to Should Schools Teach Personality?

The push to discipline, while seeming 'good for kids' is questionable for several reasons:

  • Why not teach openness to ideas, another quality shown correlated with academic performance.
  • Conscientiousness is a slightly more conservative quality, while openness is a liberal quality (it is the stronger correlate of political viewpoint), and this just seems to push the same negative conservative agenda.
  • The blame for failure is simply pushed further on to students, without any awareness about larger societal issues and/or social issues impacting one's ability at discipline.
  • Teaching personality might have secondary negative effects

As to the last point, I have read of a study showing an inverse correlation between conscientiousness and fluid intelligence, and an increase in g with some dimensions of intelligence, although it was not verified in a follow-up study:

Original: What Facets of Openness and Conscientiousness Predict Fluid Intelligence Score?

Attempt to verify: Personality-intelligence interface : the relationship between conscientiousness and intelligence

A Journey — if You Dare — Into the Minds of Silicon Valley Programmers

My responses in a NY Times comment section for the book, Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World by Clive Thompson ...