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POTUS / FLOTUS

May 18, 2015

This is the best thing to happen on Twitter in a while. President Obama got his own Twitter handle today, and tweeted for the first time. Then this happened.

 

Okay, that was Key-and-Peele-worthy.

Reaching Goals

May 11, 2015

Sunday was the end of a training cycle – I’d selected an, I think, 16 week training thing from the RunKeeper fitness app – and I ran my one-woman 5k race. This, despite flooding and thunderstorms. I sort of made my goal, and I sort of didn’t. The thinking went like this:

  • I want to run a sub-30 minute 5k.
  • A 5k is 3.1 miles.
  • So, I need to run a little under 10 minutes per mile to meet my goal.

I was surprised, at the end, to find that I’d met my pacing goal – 9:42 minutes/mile on average – but barely missed my time goal. My final time was 30 minutes 13 seconds. It turns out, to run a sub-30m 5k, the pace must be 9:39 or less. Dammit. So, lesson learned: do the actual math when setting pacing goals.

But it’s at least a partial win, because one of the two goals was indeed pacing, and I met that. On top of that, I’ve been on a slow weight loss program (goal, 1lb / week) for 5 weeks, and I’ve lost 5 pounds.

It’s nice to finally start setting and meeting some goals.

-J

P.S. Oh, and the major limiting factor in my speed work seems to be my damn exercise induced asthma. At a certain speed, I simply can’t suck enough wind to keep going. So yeah, other lesson learned: get the inhaler refilled in time.

Everyone has something to hide from surveillance

May 1, 2015

By Paweł Zdziarski (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Paweł Zdziarski (Own work) , CC-BY-SA-3.0

Wired.com: Why ‘I Have Nothing to Hide’ Is the Wrong Way to Think About Surveillance

This, this, this, a thousand times this. Key excerpts:

“If the federal government can’t even count how many laws there are, what chance does an individual have of being certain that they are not acting in violation of one of them?”

“…these legal victories would probably not have been possible without the ability to break the law.”

“Police already abuse the immense power they have, but if everyone’s every action were being monitored, and everyone technically violates some obscure law at some time, then punishment becomes purely selective. “

“…an enormous steam roller built out of careers and billions in revenue from surveillance contracts and technology. To negotiate with that, we can’t lead with concessions, but rather with all the opposition we can muster.”

Why I’ve been refusing invitations to women in tech panels

April 15, 2015

This is a pretty decent summary of (one of the major reasons) why I’ve stopped being quite so supportive of women in technology events and panels:  An Unpopular Opinion about Diversity Panels

To excerpt the summary:

Diversity panels do not help further the cause of diversity.  They just don’t.  They are nice and I love hearing marginalized folks share their experiences.  But they suffer from an echo chamber effect that diversified panels, panels where a member happens to be from a marginalized group, do not face.  Diversity panels make conference organizers feel like they’re doing their part to further diversity, but all they really do is further ghettoize diverse authors and marginalized voices because the audience for those panels are the people who are ALREADY LISTENING.

Emphasis mine.

And a proposed solution:

…to get the people who don’t care to start thinking about diversity you have to put it in front of their face when they aren’t thinking about it.  You have to slip black beans into their brownies and only tell them about the benefits of what they ate after the fact.

I shall have to muse upon this further…

Yes, EVERYBODY gets to talk

March 25, 2015

Yesterday, there was a guy standing on the sidewalk outside the high school, with a big gross [very political thing I disagree with] poster and handouts. I checked, it’s legal for him to do this. The sidewalk is public property, and not part of the high school grounds.

He left, or I’d’ve walked up, asked for a flier, torn it up, and asked for another. This is also legal.

I posted about this privately, and got on to free speech. I’m a fervent supporter of free speech. It’s within the limits of the law, so I think the guy absolutely should be allowed to do what he did. I also think [his particular soapbox] is ridiculous, disgusting, ill-informed, and inappropriate. These are no conflicting viewpoints here: anyone and everyone must be allowed to advertise their opinions. I just get to be loud and annoying back. Equal rights FTW!

A friend then commented that “I’m not sure the framers of the constitution meant this when they included this in our rights.” No, this is exactly what the framers of the constitution meant. Everyone, including those with horrific and/or stupid views, should get an equal chance to say what they want. Because, depending on who’s in power and what the popular ideas of the day are, OURS may be the “horrific and/or stupid” views. (Think: voting rights for women, civil rights for black people, marriage equality for homosexual folk, and so on.)

THIS IS WHAT FREE SPEECH IS FOR. You HAVE to let the assholes talk. HAVE TO. Or it doesn’t count.

There are limits*, of course. People generally misunderstand them. And there are caveats. But the limits and caveats have absolutely nothing** to do with the viewpoint of the person speaking; if the “Organization for Doing Good Things All The Time With a Big Smile” gets to march and display signs and hand out fliers, then the “Evil Association of Shitheads who Hate Large Groups of People” also get to do so, no matter how vile their thoughts are. IT MUST BE THIS WAY.

I, too, disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

-Jen

*Limits on freedom of speech include a few categories of speech; time, place, or manner restrictions; and the fact that the First Amendment is a protection against GOVERNMENT infringement on freedom of speech, which necessarily means that you don’t get to say or do whatever you want on private property, in a private arena, or with the expectation that anyone has to listen to you. 

**This is a generalization. There are a few things we could talk about as far as content restrictions, but I took ONE 1st amendment class in college, not several.

Adventure Day/Fist of Doritos

March 22, 2015

We had one-on-one time with the boys today: Sean took Eric fishing, and I took Ben out for jogging, books, and swimming.

We decided to call ours “Adventure Day”. The guys…well, you read the title.

Sean and Eric decided that they like any sport where you can fall asleep and do just as well.

Ikea table parenting

February 24, 2015
table

Ours is a little more scratched and dented and marked on and…

My philosophy of parenting includes keeping only moderately decent furnishings, because mistakes will happen. For example, one of the boys got permanent marker on our dining room table. It’s the nicest table I’ve ever owned, but it’s also an Ikea pine wood jobby, easily scratched and marked. It’s not anything we’re likely to turn into an heirloom.

When I was a kid, I always thought getting yelled at for that sort of thing was a huge injustice. Growing up hasn’t really changed my mind. I can tell the boy didn’t do it on purpose*; it’s easy not to think of these things when you’re a kid**. Nothing (that’s not actually yours) has a huge amount of value, because that’s not how your mind works yet. It’s just stuff, that exists in your world. How on earth could you understand the schooling and career building behind the day your mom was able to buy a decent table?

Knowing that, why would I get my dream table – if I had such a thing – and expose it and my kids to each other?  It’s better to have the niceish, functional table, tell them to clean up the marks as best they can, and ban permanent markers.

-J

*He did once mark on a chair on purpose, but that time I could tell it wasn’t malicious. He was just “oh hey, a chair and a marker, let’s see.” Yes, sometimes as a kid you brain fart that way. I remember doing it, don’t you?

**And, the daughter pointed out that the permanent marker may have bled through the paper, which is just a problem with experience and/or anticipating consequences.

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