Wednesday, July 31, 2013

We fall for things because our ancestors learnt to look for patterns, and survived.

We are evolutionarily selected to see patterns. Hence the fact we are often making type 1 errors. I tried to share this through FB but it wouldn't work. It was on the I fucking hate pseudoscience page.

"There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true." –Søren Kierkegaard

Type 1 error: Believing a false pattern. The human brain seeks patterns, and not all of them are evidence of cause and effect. With any given sequence of events our brains are inclined to overlay a narrative that isn't necessarily a reflection of the evidence. It's also shaped by intuition, past experience, and prior knowledge, none of which can be perfect.

Type 2 error: Failing to recognize a true pattern. Again, things like intuition, past experience, and wishful thinking can cause us to ignore a pattern that is actually there. This often leads to harmful consequences if we fail to recognize a predator or a dangerous situation.

As you see, the cost of making a type 1 error is less than the cost of making a type 2 error. If we believe a house is haunted we aren't likely to be harmed by the false pattern. If we ignore global warming and severe climate change is a result, we've made a grave error. Because of this, natural selection tends to favor those who make type 1 errors, which is why humans evolved to be especially prone to them.

It's also worth noting that the more we try to be vigilant of either error, the more likely we are to commit the other one. If I am too determined not to be fooled into thinking Bigfoot is real, I may miss the actual evidence if any is ever presented. If I am too determined to not let skepticism get in the way of my Bigfoot hunt, I am likely to pick up on many false patterns.



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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A graphic depiction of reach and frequency

My blog readership results over the last few days. See the huge spike. Somebody got interested and read a heap of my posts. Thanks for your interest. That would show as an increase in frequency in old speak. See the thick (but low) pattern of hits over the last day or so? Lots of people looking at one or two posts. That would show as reach in old speak.


Strangely the reach gets driven by "outreach" communication (posts and viral on Twitter and Facebook) while frequency seems to come from having a large backlog of posts that might be interesting. Sometimes a spike comes from lots of outreach comms (and actually feeds reach) That's the second spike - my (sexism) post - thanks mum and siblings.

What is better in an ad sense? Hotly argued. I lean towards reach, but if you have an ad message you want to get through you also need enough frequency to be effective. A yin and yang of advertising; they both cost.

On a technical note, when you multiply the reach % by the average frequency (no. of times) you get a thing called gross rating points GRPs. I get confused when they talk about target audience rating points TARPS but I think it's just that they take the reach from a smaller population subset.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Metaphor: Freefall looks better

I'm watching a few friends who work in a business that's struggling. I essentially lost my job 18 months ago and have only been as secure as my most recent invoice. It's like being in freefall.

But at least I've come to terms with it. I charge out to a half a dozen businesses and my bank seems to keep getting paid.

So I don't think I'd choose to be employed back where I was, although I do need all the favours I can get. But I can't help but think:

Danger is the reality, security is the illusion. Freedom is the absence of fear.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Don't do bad. They never look for the good.

"Imagine if your life was about the worst thing you ever did."

This was a quote from a character on "House" season 2 I think. A death row prisoner who'd tried to kill himself. Branch to a different post about freedom and control.

As with "the goatfucker"

Ah, tell ya man! This pub, this very pub we're just sitting in. I built it, with me own hands! But do they call me the Pubmaker? Naa! See the wall over there, that protects our town? I built it, with me own hands! But do they call me the Wallmaker? And the bridge, you know, that crosses our river, I built it, with me own hands! But do they call me the Bridgemaker?
But I tell ya, man! YOU FUCK ONE GOAT!

It was worth me going back to the Bunnings counter to get charged for an extra bag of cow manure because I'd counted wrong.

I've been in a position a few years ago where I had people watching everything I did, looking for bad behaviour. Worse than a tax audit I'd suggest.

It pays to not do bad, because somebody wants you to be doing bad. Plus - Karma happens.

Sometimes I groan at sexism

Watching a little Facebook. I saw a friend complaining about a Jamie Oliver recipe. And who can blame her, he doesn't do much for me. But I'm always a little saddened to see at some people's mind set. Someone I don't know said:

"It's a Jamie Oliver recipe. Jamie Oliver is male. It is a law of nature that men will use three pots and a chopping board to boil an egg."

Now I don't trawl the internets looking for opportunities to get offended, but if I said something like "she's a woman, of course she crashed her car" that would be a little off, wouldn't it? As one of the (few) males who does almost all the cooking and treads lightly in the kitchen I can say that my "friend of friend"'s comment above doesn't apply to all males and also that bad driving appears to be independent of gender.

And if your thought is "it's just a joke" then I invite you to consider what you think might be good behaviour, too.

I recently had to delete a thread of mine where someone commented with "c'mon bro, don't gay it up"  because it's not something I'd say. Dangerous thing this social media.

UPDATE: Interesting to hear Eva Cox on the radio. A very unfair thing seems to happen in the social media underground against women of power. Some men (mostly) hit the woman with a barrage of personal abuse and threats. No surprise, just (another) groan.


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Friday, July 26, 2013

Excellent: An email I can safely ignore

I still get some emails from within the university system. Given that I've decided that academic research is a "smoke and mirors confidence trick", a soul destroying exercise in "what does it matter anyway" I relish my newfound freedom to ignore.

What does it matter anyway? This year I have had an A journal publication, I'm on another A that has been accepted and will go into print this year - many thanks to my colleagues. I'm part of a team that has won a three year grant from the GWRDC and I get student satisfaction scores (for my teaching) of 6.5 on a 7 point scale. Yet I'm a sessional teacher - as secure as the next invoice I get to send.

I'm not complaining - it has given me the freedom to go hard at the skydiving sport; I've gone from lapsed funjumper to freefall instructor in six months and picked up a Cert IV in Training and Assessment at the same time as teaching two courses for a University and three for a TAFE, as well as a QPMR accreditation.

It's also given me the freedom to ignore emails with headers like this one:

*Important* ARC Scheme Closing Dates for 2013-2014 Rounds

Nope. I think my weekend will be spent coaching kids footy on Saturday and doing Skydive Instructor Jumps on Sunday.

VIDEO: You'll never walk alone



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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Damon had a good jump today

We got a lot done today, and learnt a lot.

Be who you are: ditch the mask

Seth Godin speaks of the rise of fake:
Our experiment in fake has some really significant consequences. It turns strangers into actors on a screen, and sometimes we help them, but often, we become inured to their reality, and treat them with a callousness and indifference we'd never use in our village.
One philosophy is caveat emptor. Assume the worst. Assume you will be ignored or ripped off or disappointed. Your mileage may vary.
Another is carpe diem. Seize the moment to connect, to keep promises and most of all, to figure out how to look people in the eye or not promise you will.
Do we really need to add another layer of fake?
And that reminds me of how I thought that faking it till you make it is still faking it and he we need to be careful of the man behind the curtain.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A cold day says nothing about climate change

I haven't heard it yet this season. But I'm sure I will. As it gets bitterly cold one often hears "so much for climate change". It's annoying. Climate is not weather. Weather is the noise that sits on the top of a climate trend.

A cold day, a cold week, a colder than normal winter. Very little value in any sensible discussion about climate change.

Equally annoying in summer, where at the peak of the heat I hear those dumb comments about "this is the new normal".

Weather is not climate.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Inertia: The strongest force

I was talking about Kevin Rudd winning the election, forcing Tony Abbott into that sad, small club of leaders wh lost the "unloseable" election and was reminded by friend Sean:

Mr/Mrs Public don't like change - no 'unloseable' election this time.... /Sean
7 hours ago


and I was reminded about the most powerful force in politics and marketing.

People order a drink:


Ice cream:


And now that we can hang all those mistakes on that "hopeless, silly usurper" when we want a politician:


I always need reminding. Apathy, habit and inertia are the strongest forces in life.

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The rise of the professional ditherer

The best managers surround themselves with great people and manage them well.

Mediocre managers get good people and mismanage them. These managers often know little about what their people do and they get in the way, while their unfortunate underlings find a way through despite them.

I consider it the rise of the professional ditherer. They tend to preside over moderately successful projects and have no idea how truly bad they are at the act of management. But a gentle word of advice: don't let the ditherer know that you see the picture.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Respect: A value worth pushing for

It's a long road, especially in macho type sports but it's a fight worth having. Good behaviour and male toughness don't have to be mutually exclusive. Some may doubt that, but I'm seeing it. I see football tough guys, army tough guys, all sorts of tough guys who live by a code of honour. And it was nice to see it here at this soccer club. A long road, but one worth walking.

Mia will be on TV again

Behind the news is doing a feature and I've brought Mia out to be in it. As with all production there's plenty of sitting around but it's the benefit of not having a real job.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Paradise by the Dashboard Light

Whata great version of an old song. Reworked for a 1992 movie, a story of a guy who made a rash promise and ended up thinking "kill me now". I thought it was romantic until about ten years ago because all I ever heard was "love you till the end of time". I didn't hear the bit about him praying for the end of time.



And the original:


Openmindedness is the bedrock of science.

Great little link from "I fucking hate pseudoscience"



I heard a story yesterday that echoes one of mine, with a truly spooky feel.

A buddy was with his beloved mother in law as she died, and a roaster that he'd never heard crow went apeshit. For the minute before and after the lady passed away this rooster crowed, and he never heard it again, or before. Steve found that comforting.

When my lovely auntie died about sixteen years ago, my mum tells me the timelines coincided perfectly. My then infant son had a poo explosion in his sleep that woke him. It covered his whole body, the likes I'd never seen before or since. I found that strangely comforting in reflection.

I choose not to seek evidence around any of this. There are some times where feeling comforted is a nice thing. I suppose that makes me closedminded because I'm not trying to seek truth. Fair enough.

I still agree 100% with the YouTube video up top, and I have no strong evidence for paranormal. Some amazing anecdotes though.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Zed's dead baby

I moving in a social circle again where people can utter the term "Zed's dead baby" and nothing more need be said. From the classic 1995 movie, the vile character "Zed" was left back in the pawn shop - alive at the time but we all knew what was ahead of him.

Zed's dead, baby.

I also love the way Butch has to show supreme patience with Fabienne, and ruthlessness when he walks out the door.



Welcome to manhood.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Never, ever give up.




One for the battlers. 98 runs off of 100 balls. It's neat that Glenn McGrath - who I admire sain these words to Agar as he presented him with hs baggy green cap: "never give up".

When the pair came together the score was 9-117 and Australia's first innings was in ruins. Five wickets had fallen for nine runs in 42 balls.

Jimmy Anderson was performing magic tricks with a ball barely 30 overs old from one end and Graeme Swann was spinning it from the other. Against reverse swing and high-class spin, a familiar sense of panic had set in among Australia's batsmen.
From there, Hughes and Agar put on a partnership of 163, the highest last-wicket stand in Test history. The previous record, shared by Pakistani pair and Azhar Mahmood and Mushtaq Ahmed, had stood for 15 years.

Hughes had to hang tough and ended up with 81 not out, while Agar played with the exuberance of youth.


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/ashton-agar-the-ashes-hero-debutant-steers-australia-to-first-innings-lead-over-england-20130711-2ptgq.html#ixzz2YlKt3tic


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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Parenting and Gardening: A Parallel

One never knows what to expect but it's in the nature of thinhs to grow well. The key is to notice the positives and make the conditions so that those positives can prevail. So I saw a self seeded passionfruit marigold (tagetes limonii) in a big pot looking like a weed. It's now a specimen all its own.
 
And I think these are self seeded primula. The trick is to not be too quick tk destroy what you don't understand, and don't get in the way of something trying to get on.
Much like parenting and leadership. Although there are sometimes you do need to prune or remove something altogether.

Nobody said it was easy but when it is straightforward we shouldn't make it more complex than it needs to be..
 

Why have a landline?

I know it's a first world problem. But in this family, all four of us who is over ten years old has a handphone. If a person wants to talk to somebody then why not call them?

Why pitch a phone call into the house, where somebody has to answer it and then run around the house trying to find somebody for them to talk to? Or most likely they're out. I know - "it's a family, it's a community, surely there's no harm".

Or you can just make a direct call to the person you wish to speak to - wherever they are. We should've killed that landline five years ago. It's for offices and dinosaurs.

The right to breathe free

I've never smoked. I grew up with two parents who did, and sitting in the centre front bench seat in an old Holden between two smokers was no fun. But they were the times and both parents are - I'm pretty sure - not proud of it. I wonder what I'll regret in thirty years.

Even twenty three years ago when I started in my first sales job, one of the questions was "I wonder how you'll fit in - we're all smokers here and everyone smokes at their desk" You know - Mad Men style. My story of smoking parents was sandy then.

So I've lived with it in the past. But I welcome the latest call for alfresco bans on smoking.


Many times I've sat outside for some reason - too full, noisy or stuffy - and had to cope with that familiar, unwelcome stink. Just think - if I'd been working at a pig farm and stink of pig shit then it would be pretty rude for me to stand or sit in close proximity to you.

As a kid I thought I'd never see the day, but I'm glad it's here. As a young adult I thought "you're dreaming" when starry eyed idealists advocated a ban on smoking in all public places. But the day is close.

I hate the nanny state rules that curb freedom. If your freedom doesn't harm anyone else then go for it. I love what BASE jumpers do, because they make their choices, manage their risk and take the reward. They solely own their decisions. I don't even mind that people smoke. They've paid for their medical bills many times.

But I do like my air.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Compost: Closing the loop is brilliant

Inspiring. This guy takes food waste from restaurants, composts it and sells fresh produce back to the restaurants. Cool.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

First instructor jump - so there we were

I climbed out to the strut and Kosta had to show that he could do a "back in" - present leg grips - do some fast and slow fall and track away.

So there we were..


Curmudgeonly vs Pushover: Swipe Cards

When the counter staff try to swipe your card and you're just waiting for the declaration: "your card's not working". You have two choices:

Curmudgeonly: "Really? Except for the last two hundred times I've used it. Prrhaps it's your machine"

Pushover: "Oh. Here's a different card"

Then of course if you choose to not be a pushover you're a grumpy old man. So be it.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Nine Gruelling Days

About a week ago I went on a course. To learn to be a skydive instructor. Theory at 7am, instruction technique throughout the day, plus two skydives, debrief at night. Plus a lot of parachute packing (you jump them you pack them).

The skydives were confidence sapping. The senior instructors who played student made every mistake possible. As with this one, where the student simply left, because I failed to have a grip on his leg strap. My mistake - I'll never ever make that one for real.



Others where a student went on their back and we wrestled them stable from 12,000ft to 8000ft then they set up wicked uncontrolled turns.

But after about 14 jumps in that torture chamber in the sky, we started to hit our straps. And while we were paranoid on those four exam jumps - student safety was drilled into us - they started to go a little better.


And I was still nervous when I did the last exam jump as an AFF stage 7 but it went more or less like clockwork.



So what a week that was. But I learned a lot. About myself, about skydiving, and about students. And I know that Sylvia took a huge load at home so that I could make this journey. I wonder where it leads.

Great footy today.

Playing in the rain. This team showed real heart. I'll post some photos soon.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Black Swan

I love the metaphor. A metaphor of how fragile our state of knowledge is. It was believed that all swans were white, because that had been the limit of (European) experience. We thought we had it in the can.
And then, in Australia, they found a swan - exactly the same as all the others - that was black. Hence the metaphor of the "black swan event" - something unexpected that totally fucks you.