Friday, May 6, 2016

Trump panders to voters

"Happy Cinco de Mayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!" (Donald Trump)

"I really appreciate the support given to me by the evangelicals. They’ve been incredible. Every poll says how well I'm doing with them. And you know, my mother gave me this Bible, this very Bible, many years ago...It's just very special to me, and again I want to thank the evangelicals. I will never let you down." (Donald Trump)

"Any day is a great day for pho soup. I love Asians!" (Comedian Nathan Fielder replying to @realDonaldTrump)

I suppose next up for Trump is a photo of him eating fried chicken and waffles then saying "I love blacks!"?

Or perhaps a photo of him smoking a tobacco pipe and saying "I love Native Americans"?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

DSM-5

Just a word or two about the DSM:

1. The DSM is touted way too much by LGBT supporters. The DSM was meant to be a guide for psychiatrists and other medical professionals, not the Bible or gospel truth or anything like that.

2. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). As such, it doesn't necessarily mean other nations like the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand will follow the DSM to the letter. It's not as if psychiatrists in these other nations genuflect to whatever the APA says is true.

For example, here's what an Australian psychiatrist has said:

Studies show 50 per cent of western populations would now be diagnosed with a mental disorder under DSM-5, says Professor Gordon Parker, the founder of Black Dog Institute and a University of New South Wales Scientia Professor of Psychiatry. "For 50 per cent of the population to now be regarded as having a psychiatric condition strikes me as straining credulity," Parker said at a recent media briefing.

3. Also, even within the US, there's considerable dissent from the most recent update to the DSM - i.e. the DSM-5. For instance, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which falls under the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has said and done the following:

[T]he NIMH did not waver from its initial ruling that it would no longer use diagnoses listed in the DSM for its' funded studies.

NIMH director Thomas Insel wrote in a statement earlier in May that the NIMH felt the proposed definitions for psychiatric disorders were too broad and ignore smaller disorders that were lumped in with a larger diagnosis.

"The weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure. In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever," Insel said.

The bottom line is there's debate over the DSM-5 even among secular psychiatrists and other relevant scholars and professionals.

4. What's more, I recently read someone claim: "The psychiatric and psychological professions have long since removed gender dysphoria from the DSM."

a. That's just flat out wrong. I have a copy of the DSM-5 in front of me. There's an entire section on "gender dysphoria." See Section II: Diagnostic Criteria and Codes.

b. Besides, just because the DSM doesn't classify something as a mental illness doesn't mean it's not a mental illness. Or just because something isn't in the DSM doesn't therefore mean it doesn't exist. If a mathematics textbook failed to include a mathematical truth, it doesn't mean this mathematical truth doesn't exist.

c. To say there's no such thing as gender dysphoria or to imply that gender dysphoria isn't an illness is actually something that many LGBT advocates would disagree with because that's how they'd justify having sexual reassignment surgery, hormonal treatment to turn them into the gender they feel they truly are, etc.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Revenant and The Martian

I recently saw The Revenant. I think it's probably my favorite movie this year, or rather from last year and this year. (Followed closely by Mad Max: Fury Road.)

It might be interesting to compare and contrast The Revenant with The Martian, which I also saw. Apologies in advance for the rather slipshod nature of this review.

Both movies relied on a single lead actor to carry the film, viz. Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. Both were directed by accomplished filmmakers, viz. Alejandro Inarritu and Ridley Scott. Both were well filmed, indeed very well filmed, beautifully filmed. They're both absorbing, and draw you into their own world. Both are films which give justice to the term "cinematic experience." Both are essentially survival tales. Man vs. nature. Man in unforgiving environments. Both are arguably worthy Oscar contenders for best picture, best director, and best actor.

However, The Revenant is decidedly darker and grimmer than The Martian. In fact, The Martian is downright upbeat in comparison. Sure, we see Damon's fear of death, his loneliness, and so forth, but that's largely in the background or in-between the main scenes which move the narrative forward. At best it's peripheral rather than central to the story. The entire tone of The Martian is optimistic and hopeful. No real bad guys either except maybe for NASA exec Jeff Bridges' character. But he's only a villain in terms of having to make cold calculated decisions that CEOs tend to have to make to the consternation of their employees, not as an explicit enemy to Damon's protagonist. Mars as a hostile habitat for humanity would be the main antagonist, but that's a given in such a story. There's no dramatic tension between characters, most of the movie is predictable, and the only real question the audience is left with is how Matt Damon is going to make it back home. As long as Ridley Scott delivers in this respect, it's a success, I guess. And Scott does deliver for the most part, although I felt the ending was over the top.

More importantly, I'd say The Martian is secular at its core. There's no explicit or perhaps even implicit mention of God, or at least none I can recall. Yet I find this extremely unrealistic given a man is literally stranded on Mars. Maybe I missed it, but wouldn't someone in such dire straits at least consider reaching out to God? Instead, the main message which comes through the film is, basically, as Matt Damon tells himself: "I'm going to have to science the sh** out of this." Sheer survival boils down to human reason and ingenuity, along with a bit of luck or chance. Time and time again Matt Damon beats the astronomical odds stacked against him, and lives. Yet, for all the talk of the movie's scientific and technical accuracy, the mathematical probability that Damon would survive seems quite strained, to put it mildly. How many times and in how many ways does someone have to get lucky for it not to be chance but providence?

By contrast, The Revenant shows man at his worst. It's man vs. nature, but it's also man vs. man, and in the latter man behaves like a beast. It's a brutal film - physically and morally speaking. No one comes out unscathed on either count. (Domhnall Gleeson's character fares better than most though.) Indeed, the movie well reflects the fact that we live in a fallen world, and that we ourselves are fallen creatures.

I suppose The Revenant is a film which liberal critics want to be about the noble savage or to have an environmentally friendly message. It's neither. Instead, the film is bloody and violent. It reflects a view of man and nature doubtless odious to liberal critics, pampered pajama boys, and the like. Watching it would be like throwing a freezing cold bucket of ice water into their face to wake them up to reality. A punch in the gut.

Civilization is not a utopian project for scholar-kings to tinker around with to their satisfaction. At best civilization is an oasis in the middle of the frozen wasteland that is the world. A privileged planet in a dead universe. Or as The Revenant depicts it: a sparsely populated ramshackle town with tall wooden walls on the edge of the frontier while howling winds, blistering blizzards, fierce wild animals, and death itself are always near at hand. It's a harsh truth for some people to swallow, for people who think the world is a place where we can overcome our animal natures by better understanding one another, who think weapons like guns should have no place in our sophisticated society since guns are reminiscent of a violent and primitive past, who think we all can sit down and have a friendly chat to iron out differences in worldview, and so on and so forth. Nevertheless, it's reality. As Richard Feynman once said in an entirely different context but which seems apropos here: "Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."

Perhaps all this in turn partly reflects Alejandro Inarritu's Catholicism, as well as the fact that Inarritu has had a less than indulgent life, at least in comparison to many other Hollywood celebs (e.g. having to cross the Atlantic on a cargo ship as a teenager, one of his children dying in infancy), whereas I suspect The Martian largely reflects Ridley Scott's secularism, which we likewise see in other Ridley Scott productions like Prometheus. For example, in Prometheus advanced aliens make man in their image, as humans have made androids. It's possible the self-sacrifice and death of the alien "Engineers" lead to the evolution of humans. We have the theme of patricide, which shades into killing one's creator. Much more could be said.

Anyway, I'm veering off track now. But for all the reasons Godawa gives as well as others (e.g. gorgeous cinematography) The Revenant is probably my favorite of the year. Not perfect by any means, but provocative on several levels. An immersive experience in the fullest sense of the word. Not easily forgotten, even haunting.

By the way, I should add I had hoped I'd like The Martian a lot more than I did, and certainly better than The Revenant. That's because I tend to like Matt Damon better than Leonardo DiCaprio as an actor. I love scifi themed movies in general, and Ridley Scott's scifi movies in particular (e.g. Blade Runner). And even when significantly flawed Scott's movies are at least thought-provoking (e.g. Prometheus). The Martian as a novel is from a geek who gone done good, which likewise gave me high hopes. The Martian is still an enjoyable movie. Maybe my expectations were too high.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"Closing that internet up in some way"

I can't help but remember the following scenes from The IT Crowd in light of Trump's recent remarks about "the internet":

Monday, December 14, 2015

What is the single most influential book every programmer should read?

This post is dated, but it contains some classics - and not just in programming either!

For an intro to CS, check out Composing Programs via CS 61A at UC Berkeley. It looks like it's based on SICP, and taught in Python 3.

Although I would've preferred Scheme. Not that language ultimately matters a great deal. It's about understanding the underlying concepts. In this respect, I'd say SICP aka the wizard book is the answer inasmuch as there is a single answer.

As a side note, I hope Berkeley hasn't done what MIT has done (which in many ways seems to mirror how many medical school curricula have moved from traditional to more integrated problem-based learning or PBL):

The discussion has been sharper recently because MIT underwent a major redesign of their lower division EECS curriculum. People outside MIT tend to summarize that redesign as "MIT decided to switch to Python," but that's not a perceptive description. What MIT decided was to move from a curriculum organized around topics (programming paradigms, then circuits, then signal processing, then architecture) to a curriculum organized around applications (let's build and program a robot; let's build and program a cell phone). Everything about their courses had to be reorganized; the choice of programming language was the least of those decisions. Their new approach is harder to teach; for one thing, each course requires a partnership of Electrical Engineering faculty and Computer Science faculty. Perhaps in time the applications-first approach will spark a revolution as profound as the one that followed SICP, but it hasn't happened yet.

(Source)

Which programming language should I learn first?

There's a lot to disagree with (e.g. it's one-sided in favor of Python; I haven't rubbed elbows with software engineers, programmers, and developers let alone worked in the industry in years, but I'd suspect in general the money is mainly in C# and Java). Still, it's kind of fun to consider.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Obsessed with Israel

According to the father of San Bernardino jihadist Syed Farook:

Additionally, the father claims Farook was "obsessed with Israel."

"I told him he had to stay calm and be patient because in two years Israel will not exist any more. Geopolitics is changing: Russia, China and America don’t want Jews there any more," Farook explained, "but he did not listen to me, he was obsessed."

This may inadvertently illustrate a difference between radical Muslims and moderate Muslims: radical Muslims actively aid in "throwing Jews into the sea" by murdering Jews, while moderate Muslims patiently wait for "geopolitics" to end Israel.

If so, then it's a difference of degree, not of kind. Shall we patiently wait for Israel's demise, or shall we bring it about ourselves posthaste?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Monday, May 9, 2016

Donald and Hobbes

You can click on each of these for a bigger image:

Source here.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Trump panders to voters

"Happy Cinco de Mayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!" (Donald Trump)

"I really appreciate the support given to me by the evangelicals. They’ve been incredible. Every poll says how well I'm doing with them. And you know, my mother gave me this Bible, this very Bible, many years ago...It's just very special to me, and again I want to thank the evangelicals. I will never let you down." (Donald Trump)

"Any day is a great day for pho soup. I love Asians!" (Comedian Nathan Fielder replying to @realDonaldTrump)

I suppose next up for Trump is a photo of him eating fried chicken and waffles then saying "I love blacks!"?

Or perhaps a photo of him smoking a tobacco pipe and saying "I love Native Americans"?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

DSM-5

Just a word or two about the DSM:

1. The DSM is touted way too much by LGBT supporters. The DSM was meant to be a guide for psychiatrists and other medical professionals, not the Bible or gospel truth or anything like that.

2. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). As such, it doesn't necessarily mean other nations like the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand will follow the DSM to the letter. It's not as if psychiatrists in these other nations genuflect to whatever the APA says is true.

For example, here's what an Australian psychiatrist has said:

Studies show 50 per cent of western populations would now be diagnosed with a mental disorder under DSM-5, says Professor Gordon Parker, the founder of Black Dog Institute and a University of New South Wales Scientia Professor of Psychiatry. "For 50 per cent of the population to now be regarded as having a psychiatric condition strikes me as straining credulity," Parker said at a recent media briefing.

3. Also, even within the US, there's considerable dissent from the most recent update to the DSM - i.e. the DSM-5. For instance, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which falls under the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has said and done the following:

[T]he NIMH did not waver from its initial ruling that it would no longer use diagnoses listed in the DSM for its' funded studies.

NIMH director Thomas Insel wrote in a statement earlier in May that the NIMH felt the proposed definitions for psychiatric disorders were too broad and ignore smaller disorders that were lumped in with a larger diagnosis.

"The weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure. In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever," Insel said.

The bottom line is there's debate over the DSM-5 even among secular psychiatrists and other relevant scholars and professionals.

4. What's more, I recently read someone claim: "The psychiatric and psychological professions have long since removed gender dysphoria from the DSM."

a. That's just flat out wrong. I have a copy of the DSM-5 in front of me. There's an entire section on "gender dysphoria." See Section II: Diagnostic Criteria and Codes.

b. Besides, just because the DSM doesn't classify something as a mental illness doesn't mean it's not a mental illness. Or just because something isn't in the DSM doesn't therefore mean it doesn't exist. If a mathematics textbook failed to include a mathematical truth, it doesn't mean this mathematical truth doesn't exist.

c. To say there's no such thing as gender dysphoria or to imply that gender dysphoria isn't an illness is actually something that many LGBT advocates would disagree with because that's how they'd justify having sexual reassignment surgery, hormonal treatment to turn them into the gender they feel they truly are, etc.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Revenant and The Martian

I recently saw The Revenant. I think it's probably my favorite movie this year, or rather from last year and this year. (Followed closely by Mad Max: Fury Road.)

It might be interesting to compare and contrast The Revenant with The Martian, which I also saw. Apologies in advance for the rather slipshod nature of this review.

Both movies relied on a single lead actor to carry the film, viz. Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. Both were directed by accomplished filmmakers, viz. Alejandro Inarritu and Ridley Scott. Both were well filmed, indeed very well filmed, beautifully filmed. They're both absorbing, and draw you into their own world. Both are films which give justice to the term "cinematic experience." Both are essentially survival tales. Man vs. nature. Man in unforgiving environments. Both are arguably worthy Oscar contenders for best picture, best director, and best actor.

However, The Revenant is decidedly darker and grimmer than The Martian. In fact, The Martian is downright upbeat in comparison. Sure, we see Damon's fear of death, his loneliness, and so forth, but that's largely in the background or in-between the main scenes which move the narrative forward. At best it's peripheral rather than central to the story. The entire tone of The Martian is optimistic and hopeful. No real bad guys either except maybe for NASA exec Jeff Bridges' character. But he's only a villain in terms of having to make cold calculated decisions that CEOs tend to have to make to the consternation of their employees, not as an explicit enemy to Damon's protagonist. Mars as a hostile habitat for humanity would be the main antagonist, but that's a given in such a story. There's no dramatic tension between characters, most of the movie is predictable, and the only real question the audience is left with is how Matt Damon is going to make it back home. As long as Ridley Scott delivers in this respect, it's a success, I guess. And Scott does deliver for the most part, although I felt the ending was over the top.

More importantly, I'd say The Martian is secular at its core. There's no explicit or perhaps even implicit mention of God, or at least none I can recall. Yet I find this extremely unrealistic given a man is literally stranded on Mars. Maybe I missed it, but wouldn't someone in such dire straits at least consider reaching out to God? Instead, the main message which comes through the film is, basically, as Matt Damon tells himself: "I'm going to have to science the sh** out of this." Sheer survival boils down to human reason and ingenuity, along with a bit of luck or chance. Time and time again Matt Damon beats the astronomical odds stacked against him, and lives. Yet, for all the talk of the movie's scientific and technical accuracy, the mathematical probability that Damon would survive seems quite strained, to put it mildly. How many times and in how many ways does someone have to get lucky for it not to be chance but providence?

By contrast, The Revenant shows man at his worst. It's man vs. nature, but it's also man vs. man, and in the latter man behaves like a beast. It's a brutal film - physically and morally speaking. No one comes out unscathed on either count. (Domhnall Gleeson's character fares better than most though.) Indeed, the movie well reflects the fact that we live in a fallen world, and that we ourselves are fallen creatures.

I suppose The Revenant is a film which liberal critics want to be about the noble savage or to have an environmentally friendly message. It's neither. Instead, the film is bloody and violent. It reflects a view of man and nature doubtless odious to liberal critics, pampered pajama boys, and the like. Watching it would be like throwing a freezing cold bucket of ice water into their face to wake them up to reality. A punch in the gut.

Civilization is not a utopian project for scholar-kings to tinker around with to their satisfaction. At best civilization is an oasis in the middle of the frozen wasteland that is the world. A privileged planet in a dead universe. Or as The Revenant depicts it: a sparsely populated ramshackle town with tall wooden walls on the edge of the frontier while howling winds, blistering blizzards, fierce wild animals, and death itself are always near at hand. It's a harsh truth for some people to swallow, for people who think the world is a place where we can overcome our animal natures by better understanding one another, who think weapons like guns should have no place in our sophisticated society since guns are reminiscent of a violent and primitive past, who think we all can sit down and have a friendly chat to iron out differences in worldview, and so on and so forth. Nevertheless, it's reality. As Richard Feynman once said in an entirely different context but which seems apropos here: "Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."

Perhaps all this in turn partly reflects Alejandro Inarritu's Catholicism, as well as the fact that Inarritu has had a less than indulgent life, at least in comparison to many other Hollywood celebs (e.g. having to cross the Atlantic on a cargo ship as a teenager, one of his children dying in infancy), whereas I suspect The Martian largely reflects Ridley Scott's secularism, which we likewise see in other Ridley Scott productions like Prometheus. For example, in Prometheus advanced aliens make man in their image, as humans have made androids. It's possible the self-sacrifice and death of the alien "Engineers" lead to the evolution of humans. We have the theme of patricide, which shades into killing one's creator. Much more could be said.

Anyway, I'm veering off track now. But for all the reasons Godawa gives as well as others (e.g. gorgeous cinematography) The Revenant is probably my favorite of the year. Not perfect by any means, but provocative on several levels. An immersive experience in the fullest sense of the word. Not easily forgotten, even haunting.

By the way, I should add I had hoped I'd like The Martian a lot more than I did, and certainly better than The Revenant. That's because I tend to like Matt Damon better than Leonardo DiCaprio as an actor. I love scifi themed movies in general, and Ridley Scott's scifi movies in particular (e.g. Blade Runner). And even when significantly flawed Scott's movies are at least thought-provoking (e.g. Prometheus). The Martian as a novel is from a geek who gone done good, which likewise gave me high hopes. The Martian is still an enjoyable movie. Maybe my expectations were too high.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"Closing that internet up in some way"

I can't help but remember the following scenes from The IT Crowd in light of Trump's recent remarks about "the internet":

Monday, December 14, 2015

What is the single most influential book every programmer should read?

This post is dated, but it contains some classics - and not just in programming either!

For an intro to CS, check out Composing Programs via CS 61A at UC Berkeley. It looks like it's based on SICP, and taught in Python 3.

Although I would've preferred Scheme. Not that language ultimately matters a great deal. It's about understanding the underlying concepts. In this respect, I'd say SICP aka the wizard book is the answer inasmuch as there is a single answer.

As a side note, I hope Berkeley hasn't done what MIT has done (which in many ways seems to mirror how many medical school curricula have moved from traditional to more integrated problem-based learning or PBL):

The discussion has been sharper recently because MIT underwent a major redesign of their lower division EECS curriculum. People outside MIT tend to summarize that redesign as "MIT decided to switch to Python," but that's not a perceptive description. What MIT decided was to move from a curriculum organized around topics (programming paradigms, then circuits, then signal processing, then architecture) to a curriculum organized around applications (let's build and program a robot; let's build and program a cell phone). Everything about their courses had to be reorganized; the choice of programming language was the least of those decisions. Their new approach is harder to teach; for one thing, each course requires a partnership of Electrical Engineering faculty and Computer Science faculty. Perhaps in time the applications-first approach will spark a revolution as profound as the one that followed SICP, but it hasn't happened yet.

(Source)

Which programming language should I learn first?

There's a lot to disagree with (e.g. it's one-sided in favor of Python; I haven't rubbed elbows with software engineers, programmers, and developers let alone worked in the industry in years, but I'd suspect in general the money is mainly in C# and Java). Still, it's kind of fun to consider.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Obsessed with Israel

According to the father of San Bernardino jihadist Syed Farook:

Additionally, the father claims Farook was "obsessed with Israel."

"I told him he had to stay calm and be patient because in two years Israel will not exist any more. Geopolitics is changing: Russia, China and America don’t want Jews there any more," Farook explained, "but he did not listen to me, he was obsessed."

This may inadvertently illustrate a difference between radical Muslims and moderate Muslims: radical Muslims actively aid in "throwing Jews into the sea" by murdering Jews, while moderate Muslims patiently wait for "geopolitics" to end Israel.

If so, then it's a difference of degree, not of kind. Shall we patiently wait for Israel's demise, or shall we bring it about ourselves posthaste?