Week In Review – 23 Apr 2017

We human continue to push the limit. Faster, higher, stronger, etc.

The effort to break the two hour marathon by Nike follows this pattern.  Progress comes from persistence and discipline (funding also helps).  This is a hallmark for science, in pursuit of knowledge.

The Science March this weekend in Washington, and around the world, speaks to the passion and credibility of science and the lunacy of disregarding scientific evidences in policy making.

At risk of confusing fiction from fact, politicians have different motivations, namely money and constituency, than scientists. The political debate on climate change is a case in point.  And the budget cut to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is another.

Nevertheless, politicians, once elected, have a responsibility to their voters.  The public trust bestowed on them expects faithful execution of  their duties.  Even when greed are insatiable, lying to the public is unethical and ground for dismissal.

Have a great week.

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What’s The Message?

Communication is sharing of ideas.  Message is the vehicle.

To achieve the intention of sharing ideas, the message needs to be crafted in the recipients’ frame of reference so it can be well received and understood.  Moreover, the message needs to be logical and clearly supported.

So far, pretty straight forward.

With that said,  President Trump’s slogan of “Make America Great Again” is losing its traction with me.  Lofty slogan aside, when will we be able to cashing in on his promises?I know that Rome was not built in a day.  And yes, things take time.

But I must confess that I am having a hard time understanding the president’s messages. Or more precisely, I start to doubt the credibility of his words such as draining the swap in Washington or sending the armada to Korean peninsula; let alone  how to make America great again.

It will be 100 days of Trump’s presidency next Saturday.  I am not looking for any divine words or tweet  from the president.  Only messages that I can understand and ideas I can believe in.  Is that too much to ask?

Do you understand the president’s messages?

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Another March In Washington?

In case you haven’t heard another march will take place tomorrow (22 April, Earth Day) here on the National Mall and in cities across the globe – the March for Science.  And it will be live streamed on Vox.

Yes, this will be on the heel of the Tax March that took place last weekend, and numerous marches before that like the Women’s Marches, A Day Without Immigrants, Airport Marches against the travel ban, etc. since President Trump took the office.

While it is not unusual for American to protest against their presidents, the breath and frequency against this president are of historical proportion and the fervor continues.  Is it because we are a country divided? President Trump’s eccentric approach to his job? Or something completely different?

Easy to chalk all these marches to democracy.  After all we are the United States of America, and freedom of speech is our constitutional right.  So one can say these protests provide catharses for our nation’s collective conscious.

I am not sure that is the answer.

Where do you see America headed and why?

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“Spurious Correlations”?

At present rate, Big Data grow in leaps and bounds.   Trying to harness the potential  of the vast amount of data remains untamed.  Unless a technology breakthrough, we are generating more data than we know what to do with them.

Moreover, data are raw inputs.  They are just numbers sans meanings.  To glean insights from the sea of data requires human intelligence (with the aid of computer) to distill meaningful patterns.  Operative word here is “meaningful.”

In analyses, given enough data, statistical correlations happen. Even if they are meaningless.  For example, believe it or not, correlation between how much chicken we eat and the amount of of crude oil we import exists.  Such correlation is called spurious correlation.

In our efforts to drill information out of the big data, beware the false connections.  Remember that data do not create meanings.  We do.  Here are 15 examples of why we should  be selective.

Another example I heard is between shoe size and one’s IQ.  Have examples of your own?


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Fake News From The White House?

Fake news is no news.  It has been around.  But what about when the fake news is generated by the White House?

In the midst of the North Korean missile provocations last week, President Trump responded by saying “We are sending an armada. Very powerful,” to the Korean peninsula in his interview with the Fox News.

That turned out to be false.  And when asked about it, White House Press Secretary danced around the answer to a tune similar to the former President Clinton’s  “I did not inhale.”  How low can one go?

Even with the benefit of the doubt that President Trump was not lying but merely stretching the truth to fit his needs, this modus operandi, including the bombing of Syria, should be a concern for all.

Should we fact check the White House as some advocate not to trust your government?

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Reblog: “The Real Cost Of Your Shopping Habits”

If you impulsive shop or lets say if you can’t find room in the house to store the goods, Emma Johnson is got a message for you – “shop less.”

Her message may be hard to swallow for those practicing retail therapy, but the the true cost of impulsive shopping is staggering as Johnson pointed out in her article.

Editorial note: Johnson used the term “chic” in her article which is surprising and less than professional, please don’t let that detracts you from her main point.

# # #

The road to bankruptcy is paved with good deals. The answer to spending less is not coupons or blow-out sales. Shop less. That’s it. Yes, it is wise to negotiate the price of things. Take advantage of coupons and deep discounts when they makes sense. But if you want to save money and improve your finances, […]

Source: The Real Cost of Your Shopping Habits

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Marathon Under Two Hours?

Sounds incredible?  So was the 4 minute mile back in 1954 before Roger Bannister broke it.  Not to mention, runners have been progressively getting faster due to advancements in technology and training.

Current world record for marathon is 2.02:57 (2 hours 2 minutes and 57 seconds) set by Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto at Berlin in 2014.  To shave 2 minute and 58 seconds off, Mr. Kimetto would have to run 6.8 seconds faster each mile. That may not sound a lot, but it means 4 minutes 35 seconds per mile for 26.2 miles.

That is what the folks at Nike is trying to achieve according to Dr. Sanjay Gupta of the Cable Network News. While not trying to run a sub 2 marathon, I find Dr. Gupta’s article offers an interesting look at how the professionals try to squeeze more efficiency from running.

The article includes the latest design approaches on shoes & apparels, the key pillars of running: oxygen & hydration, and running environment.  In a nutshell: to increase efficiency, it takes a mid-foot strike running form, refined VO2 max which apparently is like our brain that never get fully utilized, and a good weather on a flat course.

Whether you think you can, or you think you think you can’t — you’re right.  ~ Henry Ford

Do you think a sub 2 hours marathon is near?

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Week In Review – 16 Apr 2017

No question this week’s big news is the United Airline’s handling of its passenger.  And the fallout from the incident include the United Airline stock price dropped, the Company CEO’s revised apology, and the payback of a lawsuit in the work.

Equally disturbing and yet less reported is the decades of police using excessive force on the blacks. Why less reported? One word – racism.  This systemic issue has cultural as well as political implications.  In that the police are generalized as hero by the media and backed by the unions.

On the international fronts, we are not doing too well either.  President Trump’s tough talks are fallen on deaf ears.  Not only that is not working, the “tough talk” could backfire on us.  Leadership comes from the hearts and mind of people.  Not by bullying them.

So in practicing Stephen Covey’s “carry your own weather,” I looked to the world’s coolest, the north pole marathon for inspirations.  Some may think it is lunatic to participate in events like this, but it’s the human spirit like this that uplifts me and allow me to carry my own weather in spite of the daily churns.

Have a great

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Police Abuse

Police officers are supposed to enforce the laws. They are not the laws.  Just because they have a badge and a gun, it does not mean they can act otherwise with impunity.

From Rodney King to Michael Brown, from Ferguson Missouri, to Baltimore Maryland, racism and abuse exist in police departments across the country. And the “reality of police abuse is not limited to a number of “very small incidents” that have impacted black people nationwide, but generations of experienced and witnessed abuse.”[source]

To assume all police officers are good in naive.  After all, they are are human beings and subject to the same human frailty as all of us. But the difference is they have a gun and a badge and have sworn to serve and protect.  Under stress, they make mistakes.  And the results could be fatal.

Accountability demands reform.  Not to mention those bad cops who knowingly abuse their authorities.  Thanks to the prevalence of cell phone cameras, plenty of such examples exist online, just google “police brutality.”


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Robbing Me Blind

Many of the daily contacts I get, phone or email, are sales oriented (I know I am not alone).  They are usually disguised as surveys, donations, or some other fronts to hook me.  Bottom-line is the same – they want me to shell out money or personal data (which are sold for money).

Typically, I provide zero response to these types of contacts. I don’t answer calls that are not on my contact list nor reply to spam.  But soon, if not already happening, companies will not need my permission.  They can get my personal data directly from social media, “free” app or wifi’s I use, or my internet service provider.

I generate my fair share of online data everyday (this blog included).  I do so with intention and by choice – my choice.  Unfortunately, I am afraid that I can’t be online without someone monetizes my personal data.  What a scam!

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t resent businesses from making money off me as long as I am using their products or services.  I just like to have a better say in my choices other than being “forced” into reading the impossible fine print.

What would you do to “even” your right to privacy online?

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