Saturday, June 16, 2018

Jordan Peterson 12 Rules for Life

I hadn't thought I would do another book review on this site. But this book is important enough and worth a review. I recently read 12 Rules for Life by Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. It was a very good book. I got a lot out of it. I wish it had been around and I'd read it 10, 20, 30 years ago. I bought my copy at Chapters. It was marked down on special, I had some Chapters next purchase limited time promo, and I had a gift card. So I got a good deal too.

Dr. Peterson is a great thinker of our times. Right up there with David Sklansky and Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I'd been hearing stuff about Peterson so I was keen when this title came out. I knew I had to read this book after the infamous Channel 4 Newman crushing by Peterson.

The book opens strong with the famous discussion on lobsters and hierarchies. The whole book is full of great stuff. There is a lot in there and Peterson, a practicing clinical psychologist and academic from Harvard and University of Toronto, makes pretty much every paragraph work. So it can read a bit dense but definitely keeps the reader engaged and is worth reading every sentence, pausing to think, and perhaps reread some paragraphs, maybe read 1-2 pages at a time and absorb. So it's a worthwhile read, personally challenging in parts, manageable but I would not call it a quick read if you are motivated to benefit from it.

So definite recommend really for anyone, especially younger people with most of their lives still in front of them. There is a lot of misinformation in our society and culture. Peterson cuts through it and exposes it and offers solutions. 12 Rules is a great counter, an actual realistic positive way forward.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Youth Action Now

I was sad to hear that former NDP MP Paul Dewar is dying. Too bad, he seems like a decent fellow.

One of Paul's last initiatives is to launch a Youth Action Now initiative. Obviously aimed at Canada's youth.

Paul has been admirably interested in children and youth in Canada for some time. He launched a Canada Youth Plan back in 2011 when he was running for leadership of the NDP party.

I wrote about children in Canada and Dewar's plan back then on this site. Over 6 years later, my take on it has stood up pretty well and is still relevant today.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Lucas Glover PGA incident

Seems there was an unfortunate incident recently involving PGA pro Lucas Glover, his wife Krista Glover, and his mother.

This from USA today story the PGA tour response.
"We are aware of the situation and Lucas informed us of his statement, which has since been posted to his Twitter account," the PGA Tour said in a statement. "Of course, we are here to provide support to Lucas and his family if needed; however, we are also respecting their request for privacy during this time."
Here are some of my thoughts on all this.

Many PGA WAGS are younger and prettier than Krista Glover.

If Krista Glover thinks hitting a golf ball far and straight is easy then let her demonstrate how easy it is by making a living herself playing golf. Lucas can stay home with the kids, allow himself to get drunk during the daytime while she is at work, and they can all live off her paycheques for a few years. Just like she has been allowed to live and live well off his ability to play golf for all these years. Then berate her if she dares have a stray bad round. See how mouthy she is then about playing golf at the highest level.

Also of course Lucas should leave her, kids or no kids. She is a terrible wife, an embarrassment to him.

How would the PGA be responding if it was reversed and Lucas as arrested for being an abuser? Would they be so respectful of personal privacy? Would the PGA insist it's a "personal" or "private" matter, an "off field problems" issue not the concern of the PGA? hardly. If things were reversed Lucas Glover would be getting the Ray Rice treatment.

I understand Krista herself is not a member of the PGA and thus not under a PGA code of conduct. Still the PGA in the interest of equality should do a lot more to support Lucas, and come down hard against domestic abuse. There are some real steps the PGA could choose to take.

Make a strong public statement against domestic abuse and violence. Make Krista non grata with the PGA. She is not to show her face. Disinvite from the WAG social and charity wing. Disinvite from the 18th green on Sunday when Lucas is in the final group.

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It should be noted self defense is a right. Defending yourself and your mother from physical attack is a right. Gender, spousal status, physical size is not an issue. It is the responsibility of the attacker to use good judgment in choosing who to bully, physically attack, and attempt to beat up. If an abuser gets hit back while attacking another then that's just tough. Any individual under attack has the right to use reasonable and appropriate force in self defense.

Abuse can drag on for years cycling through a usual list of excuses "clinical depression", "alcoholism", "bipolar", "uncontrollable temper", "was provoked/just reacting", "exhausted", "drank too much", "bad childhood". Yet in the face of determined self defense the excuses magically evaporate, self control emerges, and the abuse ends. An abuser understands force very well. If an abuser knows an attack will be equally self defended going forward then the attacks will abruptly end.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Why do bad things happen to good people

An old question. If you think about it a bit you can come to understand it. It's actually not a rhetorical or unanswerable question.

Anyone asking the question I think would agree that these are all true
  • there are good people
  • there are bad people
  • good things happen
  • bad things happen

From there it should be immediately clear that these must all be true

  1.  good things happen to good people
  2.  good things happen to bad people
  3.  bad things happen to bad people
  4.  bad things happen to good people
That bad things happen to good people is the inescapable consequence of the existence of good and bad people, and that good and bad things will happen. Still I've only ever heard complaint about case 4. Nobody is unhappy if something good happens to a good person, or objects if something bad gets thrown in a bad person's face.

Can it be fixed?
Can the fact that bad things happen be fixed? Could it be that bad things no longer happen.

Alas, probably not on the Earthly realm where we all live. Lifespan is finite. Resources are finite. We have to compete with others both as individuals and in groups to navigate through life.

There is large variance in the natural world and how events unfold. Luck is a major factor, which means bad luck must also be a factor. A rising tide lifts every boat. Rain falls on the just and the unjust.

The human body is an incredibly complex machine. Generally it is pretty robust for several decades. However it can malfunction resulting in major illness or death in your prime or well before. Bad luck and natural variance.

Then there's free will. People are able to choose their own actions through life. That means people can choose or intentionally cause bad things to happen to others. Bad people and bad things happening also go together. So as long as there is free will then there is a reality that bad things can happen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Prince Charles had a good weekend

It was a sight at the royal wedding last weekend. After a series of events, Prince Charles, the father of the groom Prince Harry, walked the bride Meghan Markle down the aisle. It was a classy and versatile gesture by the crown prince. At weddings sometimes you have to improvise a bit and cheerfully make the best of things. Charles performed admirably in this impromptu role.

How would you describe Charles' role? Father of the bride for a day? meh he's already the father of the groom. Perhaps husband of the mother of the bride for the day would work. It was good for the bride, surely it made her mom feel welcome and look good there. Charles actions generously lent a lot of credibility to mom Markle, a nice gesture at Harry's wedding that could be remembered into the future.

There seemed a kind of zeal to Charles on Saturday in his ad hoc role. He seemed chuffed up coming out of the church. Smiling and pleased with himself with a woman on each arm.

And with this the rehabilitation of Prince Charles is now complete. To the extent that Charles ever required rehabilitation. After the divorce and Diana died it was a black mark on Charles. He's worked hard over the years on his image. He's conducted himself well in public since at least 2000. The thing is, through history the crown prince has always had a discreet mistress. Charles understood his prerogative. It was Diana who rejected centuries of tradition and precedent about her role and upset everything. A lot of good it did her. It is what it is for Charles, he took his reversals around this fairly in stride, kept a thick skin, and fairly regrouped and kept going.

Charles has aged well. Along with some of his contemporaries from about a generation ago, maligned at the time, who have also aged pretty well from then to now. That is Homer Simpson and Murphy Brown. By today's standards, Charles, Homer and Murphy are just regular folks with regular lives. They could have done a lot worse for their kids and spouses we recognize now by contemporary standards.

Diana will always be the people's princess. Charles will have to live the rest of his days in that shadow. However Charles comes across pretty well as a regular guy prince. ahem, compared to the Markle family trainwreck Charles looks good by comparison, not such a bad guy or bad father after all. I suspect Harry understands that, especially after dealing with the Markle clan up close.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Thoughts about Bitcoin

It is an interesting phenomena the rise of Bitcoin. In many ways Bitcoin questions and challenges how we have thought about money, banks, and government the last several decades at least. As long as I've been around.

Like many I wish I'd thrown $100 into Bitcoin back when you could buy them for $1 each. Oh well.

One concept is there's no "they" with Bitcoin. No central bank. No ultimate federal government authority. That takes some getting used to. With traditional currency, money and state tend to be pretty closely tied. Also with traditional money we accept there is some kind of central bank authority somehow controlling some unseen money supply with interest rates or whatever. We accept the state, perhaps in conjunction with a central bank, can as it deems necessary print money, aka "quantitative easing" to use a more polite term.

Bitcoin is more like true property. To own Bitcoin is to truly own it. Bitcoin cannot be frozen, zeroed out, seized, transferred to another, garnished, blocked access. Also if you have network, you can have access to your Bitcoin wherever you are. Unlike traditional money in a bank, a central authority can access your funds, or block your access, without your consent. With no intermediary such as banks, you can both direct access your Bitcoin, and prevent third party access through the intermediary.

Speaking of property. Banks are required to report cash withdrawals over $10,000 to the government. The individual is required to fill out forms saying what the withdraw is for. No wiretap, warrant, or court order is required. Why is this? Is the balance in your bank account not your own private property? Apparently not entirely. And yet nobody questions this, it's just passively accepted.

The withdraw reporting rule just shows that with traditional currency, in a real way it isn't entirely your property. In a way it's akin to a passport. You can hold it and use it within certain boundaries, but underneath it is the property of the nation state that issued it.

From its mathematical structure, Bitcoin cannot be created by a central authority. That is a powerful concept. It basically cuts "them" out of the picture from the outset, with no way to muscle in. With traditional money, we have to trust and rely on the national government and central banks to guard and maintain the integrity of the national currency. However there's nothing really preventing a government or central bank from creating raw new money out of thin air. So if you come to own a Bitcoin you don't have to be concerned that an identical Bitcoin could be legally counterfeited by a government or central bank straight off a printing press, thus diluting and devaluing your property.

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A note on how bad and corrosive printing money can be. A short tale. Suppose a businessman owns two apartment buildings side by side in a lower middle class neighborhood. There's a fair size lawn around and in between the buildings. The landlord wants the grass mowed so that his site looks good and the tenants are happy. You agree to mow the lawn for $100. He provides the lawn mower and gas.

On the agreed day you arrive at 9 AM. You spend several hours mowing the lawn. About 5 PM you are finished and packed up. He hands you a $100 bill as agreed. You take the $100 you earned and decide to go to a local bar for a $20 burger and beer deal.

Now at the same time a government truck rolls by with a printing press producing $100 bills. The government hands your neighbor a $100 bill hot off the printing press, just for being fabulous. He takes his $100 and goes to the same local bar.

Now at the bar your $100 spends identically to the printed $100, there's no difference. The difference is that you had to do physical work in the sun all day to obtain your $100, while the other did not have to do anything to get an identical $100.