Friday, January 14, 2022

Fox News Trying to Rile People Up for No Good Reason Again

I saw this post today about a Fox News interview with this guy claiming that Microsoft is trying to change society by nudging writers into using politically correct language. As usual, they do not present the full story and therefore get people all upset over nothing. 


First, this feature has been around for quite a while. Apparently, this guy just noticed it. But the most important thing to know is that it is totally optional. If you don't care about what Microsoft labels as "Inclusiveness" then do not select it. It is NOT included by default - you have to select it for it to suggest politically correct alternatives. The interview doesn't touch on that. These guys want you to think Microsoft, through their Word software, is in some "woke" conspiracy to brainwash us. Hogwash. I wish they would quit trying to create issues where none exist.






Friday, December 24, 2021

Book Review: The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human RaceThe Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book I've read in the last few weeks by Walter Isaacson. He knows how to tell a story.

I was surprised how much competition there is in the academic world. There is a lot of pressure to get a paper published first. It is all bound up with patents and the money inherent in cures for diseases. However, there was also cooperation when it came to detection, a vaccine, and perhaps a cure for Covid-19.

The book pointed out more than one example where the accomplishments of women were overlooked. Though, Doudna and Charpentier both won a Nobel, so perhaps things are changing.

Lastly, the author pointed out that college majors in the life sciences are up 17% since the start of Covid. That is a great thing - it would be wonderful if more people worked in that field!

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Monday, December 13, 2021

Book Review: The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital RevolutionThe Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. We tend to glorify the big names: Gates, Bezos, Zuckerberg -- but this book includes the people that worked with them and that sometimes provided more value!

I liked the parts stressing how the computer should augment human abilities rather than replace humans. I joined the bandwagon in the early 80s and thought the computer would unleash a creative storm, and ultimately make us smarter. I was only partly right. 

The book was written in 2014, so it's a bit dated in one respect. He thought social media would connect people, create community. He was right to an extent of course, but I think he didn't foresee how much our data would be used to market to us, to manipulate us, and in a political / cultural sense -- separate us.

I find it unfortunate that the original idea of computing and the internet (discussed nicely in this book) seems to have fallen by the wayside. It's now monopolized by social media. Many people seem to think Facebook is the internet and that is unfortunate.

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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Think the Government is Ready for the Next Pandemic?

The Premonition: A Pandemic StoryThe Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this book was very well written. Like any good story, I found it difficult to put down.

It was very frustrating to see yet another venerable institution, the CDC, laid bare. If you a fan of big government (though some elements of the private for-profit sector do not fare well in this story either) you're going to be saddened to see how dysfunctional so many layers of government, not just federal, can be. "Political cover" is often more important than public health. Political appointees are selected for reason other than competence, and these appointees cannot be made to look bad, even though they are useless and not contributing to the solution. The sheer cowardice of our political class is depressing.

Fortunately, there are some very smart people in the world who can get the right things done

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Friday, October 15, 2021

Book Review: The Survival of the Bark Canoe by John McPhee

The Survival of the Bark CanoeThe Survival of the Bark Canoe by John McPhee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A friend recommended I read this book. At first I was apprehensive. I'm into boats, but really big ones - not canoes! I previously read McPhee's Looking for a Ship and really liked it. So, of course, I would give this book a chance.

I'm glad I did. McPhee tells us about Henri Vaillancourt, builder of birch bark canoes, who lives near where I lived for a short time in New Hampshire (wish I had known he was so close when I lived there!). McPhee describes a vision of craftsmanship that is so appealing in today's time. Vaillancourt uses no power tools, uses traditional materials (no nails, no rivets) and takes the time to do it right. In today's high speed world, that is quite refreshing.

As in the previous McPhee book I read, McPhee excels at describing a journey. He takes a canoe trip in northern Maine with Vaillancourt and others and it's a great story all by itself!

Thanks to R.G. Ziemer (author of The Ghost of Jamie Mcvay) for a great recommendation!

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Morton Arboretum

I took a little walk around the Morton Arboretum today. It was cloudy; it rained a bit. I enjoyed it nonetheless.









Monday, September 27, 2021

Nature Hates Us

The stink bugs are back this year. We had hardly any last year and today they have appeared in fairly large numbers on the screen porch, so far only on the outside thank goodness. 

Besides being ugly they are really bad for the crops around us (corn and soybeans mostly). I was hoping some bird took a liking to them, or maybe something else drove them away. Looks like that was just wishful thinking.




Fox News Trying to Rile People Up for No Good Reason Again

I saw this post today about a Fox News interview with this guy claiming that Microsoft is trying to change society by nudging writers into u...