Saturday, May 30, 2015

What a nightmarish story to read!

No, it wasn't about the Islamic State.
Nor was it about the deaths in India from the scorching heat.

Those, and more, are beyond me.

Within my own sphere of influence, what could be a nightmarish report to read?
Think about what worries me, a lot, about my own life.

Yep, the worry that I will live past 75!

I read about supercentenarians, which did not make my morning good! ;)
Supercentenarians — people who have lived past their 110th birthday — generally come from a heartier stock than most people. They tend to have few age-related health issues and are much physically and mentally sharper than their peers during their 80s and 90s.
Am exhausted from reading that.
When she died, [Gertrude] Weaver was the seventh-oldest person in verified history. The woman who preceded her as the oldest living person in the world, Japan’s Misao Okawa, died a month after she turned 117 — older than all but four other people in verified history. (Okawa credited her longevity to lots of sleep and lots of sushi.) The current oldest living person in the world, Jeralean Talley, is one of 11 children of Georgian farmers and is the 12th-oldest verified person in history; Brooklyn resident Susannah Mushatt Jones is only 44 days younger than her.
The rapidly changing world won't help me either:
As we enter an age with less war and infection and fewer accidents, more and more people with these superior aging genes have been able to make it to a point in time when they can show them off.
Maybe this summer I should start smoking, drinking, and eating nothing but the reddest of red meats and ensure that I am gone before 75.

There is, but, a faint ray of hope for me:
Ninety percent of supercentenarians are women. Some scientists think the two X chromosomes that women have explain some of the gender imbalance among the world’s oldest people. “The second X is like a backup,” Young said. “Males only have one chance to make a mistake.”
Thank heavens for that Y chromosome, whose geography I tracked down a couple of years ago! ;)

Which means, I can continue to eat healthy and tasty foods, like the one that I had last night, and still exit at 75?


Friday, May 29, 2015

The end of men. Why can't it be the end of mice, instead!

For years, nearly two decades now, I have been worried about boys lagging right from middle school on, and young men beginning to fall behind.  I have even tagged many of those posts with "save the males," as I have done in this post too. But then neither mice nor humans care about Sriram's views!;)

The worry is because this is not any zero-sum game in which girls and women advancing means that boys and men have to lose.  Instead of a win-win-win-win, the Y chromosome is failing.  Sometimes failing badly.

Talking about males and females has become a political landmine as well.  It is a charged topic.  But then, come to think of it, which topic is not charged.  It is unfortunate that even as we have become more educated as a society, we have not developed the abilities to have constructive and productive discussions.

But then people will take notice when the issue becomes a cover story at the Economist, which has apparently woken up to this issue, finally!  Let me give you the magazine's bottom-line first:
The growing equality of the sexes is one of the biggest achievements of the post-war era: people have greater opportunities than ever before to achieve their ambitions regardless of their gender. But some men have failed to cope with this new world. It is time to give them a hand.
I tell ya, it does piss me off that nobody listens to me.  But, heck, it is such an awesome feeling within that I am doing a good job of connecting the dots.


The magazine notes:
Men cluster at the bottom as well as the top.
When trying to talk about boys and men clustering at the ends, Larry Summers missed a step or two and he was soon pushed out of the presidency at Harvard; remember that?  I cannot understand why this has to be such a political issue!

Anyway, back to save the males; what's the net result?
 Poorly educated men in rich countries have had difficulty coping with the enormous changes in the labour market and the home over the past half-century. As technology and trade have devalued brawn, less-educated men have struggled to find a role in the workplace. Women, on the other hand, are surging into expanding sectors such as health care and education, helped by their superior skills. As education has become more important, boys have also fallen behind girls in school (except at the very top). Men who lose jobs in manufacturing often never work again. And men without work find it hard to attract a permanent mate. The result, for low-skilled men, is a poisonous combination of no job, no family and no prospects.
Yep, all the issues that I have blogged about in plenty.
The economic marginalisation this brings erodes family life. Women who enjoy much greater economic autonomy than their grandmothers did can afford to be correspondingly pickier about spouses, and they are not thrilled by husbands who are just another mouth to feed.
Ouch!
Hanna Rosin talks of “plastic women”, who adapt deftly to economic and social change, and “cardboard men”, who fail to adapt and are left crumpled.
If boys and men aren't adapting, or at least fast enough, then shouldn't the rest of us think about what to do?

Oh, btw, here's a video clip from the wise Stephen Colbert talking about Rosin's article and interviewing her, which I blogged about five years ago--almost to the date ;)


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Eat to live, but do not live to eat ... carried to the extreme!

Read the following sentences from the NY Times:
“I think engineers are ready to throw in the towel on the illusion that we’re having this family dinner,” he said. “Let’s do away with all the marketing facade and get the calories as quickly as we can.”
The time wasted by eating is, in Silicon Valley parlance, a “pain point” even for the highest echelon of techie. Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, once said, “If there was a way that I couldn’t eat so I could work more, I would not eat. I wish there was a way to get nutrients without sitting down for a meal,” according to a new book on the entrepreneur, written by Ashlee Vance. 
When I blogged less than a year ago, worrying about Soylent and its philosophy, I didn't imagine that the Soylent industrial food would so quickly become a significant part of the tech-world.  Yet, that's what the NY Times is reporting:
Boom times in Silicon Valley call for hard work, and hard work — at least in technology land — means that coders, engineers and venture capitalists are turning to liquid meals with names like Schmoylent, Soylent, Schmilk and People Chow. The protein-packed products that come in powder form are inexpensive and quick and easy to make — just shake with water, or in the case of Schmilk, milk. While athletes and dieters have been drinking their dinner for years, Silicon Valley’s workers are now increasingly chugging their meals, too, so they can more quickly get back to their computer work.
So that they can quickly get back to their computer work?
Why this monomaniacal approach to work?
Why this reduction of life to work, work, and more work?
What the hell is going on?  

These workers, perhaps "slaves to work" is a better descriptor, do not seem to have any grasp--even the remotest understanding--of life and what it means to be human.  Ok, they do; at least Musk does:
Vance cites an anonymous Tesla employee who claims Musk upbraided him via email for missing a company event to attend his child’s birth. “That is no excuse,” Musk reportedly wrote. Musk has denied the claim, saying, “I would never do that.”
Maybe not. There is evidence in Vance’s book that Musk possesses at least some degree of sympathy for human frailty. For instance, a SpaceX engineer once vented to a colleague that he was nearing a breaking point after ruining both of his pairs of eyeglasses in an all-consuming work sprint that left him no time to see an optometrist. Musk overheard him, and within hours his assistant approached the employee with an appointment card for Lasik surgery, and Musk picked up the tab.
Oh well, it is his life and Musk can live it any which way he wants to.  Those techie engineers can drink their Soylent and bet at their computers 24x7.  I couldn't care about that kind of a life.  That's no life at all; I would rather not live if that were the only choice I have.

The other day, I walked by the river after work.

While walking, I spotted a pond turtle that was slowly crossing the path.  And stopped.  I worried that a bicyclist or a skateboarder coming at top speeds around the bend might not see the turtle and that will be the end of the critter.  So, I stood next to the turtle with my hands stretched to indicate a "stop" in either direction.  A bike came hurtling, saw me from afar and slowed down to a stop.  From the other side, a family on bikes immediately shushed at the chatty ones in the group and they came to a stop.  The turtle kept crawling at a turtle's pace and slowly meandered across.

Confident that I had passed along the watchman job to the group, I continued with the walk--in order to digest the dinner that I had, which included this salad that I made:


I tell ya, the countdown to 75 looks more and more appealing when I think about the likes of a Soylent-fueled future ;)