Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Compton Cookout, and Isadore Hall III: McCarthy's New Age Revival

Wow. Last night I first heard about this from my friend Dayna. Today Seph posted this news article on twitter. The headline reads "Lawmakers Outraged Over 'Compton Cookout' Party." And I'm thinking, this guy is an elected official and he has nothing better to do? You can see a whole video of the press conference he had here

I personally found it pretty annoying that he said "racist and sexist" about 20 times. Clearly this guy didn't have much to say. From what I read, there was not a SINGLE incident of racial or sexist injustice perpetrated as a result of this party to which our state assembly is now "demanding full accountability for their actions." Continuing from Hall's website:

 “Today, I call upon UC San Diego Chancellor Mary Anne Fox, UC President Mark Yudof and the UC Board of Regents to launch an immediate and thorough investigation of the ‘Compton Cookout’ event to determine the names of those responsible for planning and participating in this act of racism and sexism, what university affiliated organizations participated in the event and what if any public funds or resources were used to plan or carry out the event. At the conclusion of the investigation, university officials should act swiftly to sanction all responsible parties including the revocation of fraternity or sorority charters, the full repayment of any public funds used to support these organizations and the individual suspension or expulsion of any student found responsible for planning or participating in this act of hate.” 

Which begs the question. Is Isadore Hall Anti-Racist? Has he criticized Dave Chappelle (Clayton Bigsby Skit), or Chris Rock (Black People -vs- Niggaz)? I don't think he should have. Actually I think that Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock were much more effective at dispelling racism through comedy than the showboat Isadore Hall ever will. What does this say about California? We don't tolerate same sex marriage, and we tolerate McCarthyist Assemblyman (and women)?

In his overridden veto of the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950, President Truman wrote, "In a free country, we punish men for the crimes they commit, but never for the opinions they have."

criticizing the Eisenhower administration, he later  said :"It is now evident that the present Administration has fully embraced, for political advantage, McCarthyism. I am not referring to the Senator from Wisconsin. He is only important in that his name has taken on the dictionary meaning of the word. It is the corruption of truth, the abandonment of the due process law. It is the use of the big lie and the unfounded accusation against any citizen in the name of Americanism or security. It is the rise to power of the demagogue who lives on untruth; it is the spreading of fear and the destruction of faith in every level of society."

Sounds right to me. This guy said nothing about a crime, or a trial, or due process, and still is demanding "suspension or expulsion" of students involved. I'm not intentionally racist, or sexist, yet I am still enlightened enough to know that EVERYONE has biases, opinions, and weaknesses. This kind of self gratifying, grandstanding behavior by politicians is the problem today, not the solution.

On June 1, 1950, Senator Margaret Chase Smith, a Maine Republican, delivered a speech to the Senate she called a "Declaration of Conscience". In a clear attack upon McCarthyism, she called for an end to "character assassinations" and named "some of the basic principles of Americanism: The right to criticize; The right to hold unpopular beliefs; The right to protest; The right of independent thought." She said "freedom of speech is not what it used to be in America," and decried "cancerous tentacles of 'know nothing, suspect everything' attitudes."[68] Six other Republican Senators—Wayne MorseIrving M. IvesCharles W. TobeyEdward John Thye,George Aiken, and Robert C. Hendrickson—joined Smith in condemning the tactics of McCarthyism.

And now so am I. I 'm glad you have the right to speak your mind Isadore Hall. But racism is not a platform for your politics. California has enough problems, and considering that not a single of your constituents was maligned by this activity, it doesn't appear you're doing anything but filling the world with hot air.

I know this will be a contentious post. I welcome all comments, and invite discussion.


1 Addition. I tried to submit this for comment to Isadore's Site. He won't accept comments from outside his district, yet he sees fit to comment on issues outside his district. I now consider him a hypocrite.

3/7/10 Update.
Since I wrote this, things seem to have escalated a bit. Somebody hung a noose on campus, and a kkk hood was also placed in an obvious public place. The NY Times has good coverage of the racial tension at the school.  Even system wide they say that 

although gains have been made in the numbers of minority students since then, the proportion of white (30.5 percent) and Asian (39.8 percent) students enrolled last year far exceeded that of blacks (3.8 percent) and Latinos (20.4 percent).

Which to me actually seems pretty diverse. It may not be proportional to the population as a whole, but there's a LOT about UCSD, and the UC system for that matter that isn't representative of California. The numbers will equalize with time, of course, but to me it points more to  providing resources at a younger age that make people ready for a place like the UC System. 

Letting people in who will just fail out is a lame way to try to change this (i.e. affirmative action). I bet a more equal number of minorities would come to UCSD if they could get in because they learned a lot in high school and before. To me this means that we need to work to provide a better quality education to people who are raised in less privileged areas.  It's a TOUGH environment, and somebody who wasn't exposed to academic challenges for years beforehand.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Top 25 Programming Errors

The new list of top 25 programming errors was released. Mostly online application issues now. Cross Site Scripting, and OS Command injection are the ones I always think of at the network/web level. Then there's all the buffer overflow/range checking which is common in all forms of code. There are many other ones I have less of an opinion on. There are two I think are worth note:

22 Allocation of Resources Without Limits or Throttling

That's lame. But does open up the risk of (D)Dos attacks very easyily. I think DDOS on the network level can typically be handled by network operators.

25 Race Condition

That's a big one. Right now there is not a single programmer out there who can right multi threaded code without ANY risk of race condition. The only answer is to alter the architecture of the way programming languages are structured, and interface with processors.

Making Urban Farming Scalable with Fish

A friend who writes about sustainable and novel development linked to an interesting article in one of her blog posts. The blog she linked to talks about making urban farms with fish and vegetables interacting. I LOVE the concept and have wanted to do something similar, but a little more micro, and feature rich for a long time.

My buddy Justin at the Borevitz Lab,  showed me a video a while ago that was based on mission to mars work. I don't remember the details but I remember also including solar panels to generate power for the system, as well as your home/office. I also figured you could absorb some water waste (say shower and liquid toilet waste) and using that in the whole system (I know I read this somewhere as well. Anyone got a link?) also capture the water as it evaporates from the plants to provide purified drinking water. Any overflow could be re-routed, and used for yard purposes, as it already is in many cities.

So not just vegetables, and fish, but power and clean water! I'd love to see this produced from modularized units  allowing different scales to be built easily by stacking different units together. I also always thought this would be great for primo restaraunts to ALWAYS have fresh veggies and fish available. Some people may freak out having there poop and potatoes so literally close, despite the real circle of life reality, but that's not me.

Justin updated me with some links:

He does research with simulating day/light cycles, different conditions, and wavelengths of light:

Also he reposted the mission to mars video from NASA:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Aerobic Training Theory, History, and Methodologies. My take...

I came across and excellent paper today with a LOT of information on aerobic and interval training. It's a hot topic these days, as a LOT of people are advocating training methodologies which are non-traditional. The paper at mentions that among ELITE athletes they do mostly Z1/Z2 training, a bit of Z4 training, and very little Z3 training. The reality is that everyone knows you have to put in the time, but being smart matters to everyone. Elites trying to maximize the gains from the enormous training they do, or time limited athletes trying to improve their ROI on the little time they have.

The problem with studies, is that they are always very controlled environments. I believe it's very important to investigate anything that comes your way, but never to take anything as an absolute. In the paper they highlight the key question most people think of when thinking about intensity:
If doing some HIT (1-2 bouts per week) gives a performance boost, is more even better?
It's well accepted that you CANNOT do too much high intensity, because you get burned out and/or overtrained. They also make an interesting point, which runs counter to my assumption that elites are a bad example:
Observing the training methods of the world's best endurance athletes represent a more valid picture of “best practice” than we can develop from short-term laboratory studies of untrained or moderately trained subjects.  In today’s performance environment, where promising athletes have essentially unlimited time to train, all athletes train a lot and are highly motivated to optimize the training process.
So what are we to do? I think it's important to learn from different sources. The a few of my favorites are below, and they all have a LOT of good material to read, and learn from.

One of my favorite resources is Gordo Byrn, who's articles can be found at Endurance Corner. He focuses on ironman training, which is obviously a small, but elite slice of the sport. He embodies the attitude that there are no short cuts, and empasizes the most underrated key of training period. Consistency! His notions  are clearly more for aggressive ironman folks. Certainly NOT for non competitive age groupers, and shorter course athletes. Coming back from a major injury last year, in a very slow, deliberate way, really opened my eyes to consistency and the power of small details.

On the flip side you can find people like the Endurance Nation guys, Rich Strauss and Pat McCrann. They are MUCH more focused on training for people who want a holistic and balanced life, which means simplicity, fewer workouts a day, and novel notions like using Zone 3 in training to maximize ROI. 

Also on this end of the spectrum, is ironguides. They call their package "The Method" and also look at balance very deeply. They also advocate not becoming beholden to technology (i.e. over reliant on your HR Monitor, or Power Meter etc.), and being in tune with your body. Very interesting notions of hormonal balance, and its control over training response are also frequently mentioned.

So far based on my experience, here's how I see it:
1) Consistency is king. Nothing is more valuable then putting in the time. When I travel, I at LEAST run for 30-40 minutes a day. It's usually easy to at least find an exercise bike at most hotels, and pools are fairly common out there as well. Still other activities can fill the gap when real world considerations are taken into concern. If I spend 3 hours walking, a couple hours kayaking, go hiking, or am active in some other way, it's not as important.
2) It's OK to go easy. Too much work, stayed up to late, over did a workout, whatever. If needed go easy. If you are not prepared, doing a hard workout is counterproductive, and can have bad consequences like lethargy or illness.
3) Beware unnecessary distance. QUALITY trumps distance. There are physical adaptations that occur from regular long work. No Doubt. It's also important to have a realistic understanding of how fast you can do the different legs of a triathlon. Earlier in my triathlon journey I did WAY to many long runs, and bikes. I was mentally assuaged because I had done 3-4 hour bikes before I did my first 4 hour triathlon.
4)  It's important to go hard some times. For me that's typically best done in a controlled environment (bike trainer/treadmill) because I like to measure my improvement. I've also been getting regular Vo2/LT tests the last two years. In any case it's important to go fast/hard. I like hills a lot on the bike, because it's also good force work at lower RPMs. Tempo runs can be pretty fun even outside, but for real Z4 intervals, a treadmill is VERY helpful. Even in off season, or recovery weeks throw in some little accelerations to keep yourself in the game.
5) Be aware of your body. Bike position. Running form. ESPECIALLY swimming form. Even easy recovery work allows you to continually try to improve your form and economy. All incredibly important. Consistent sleep. Good nutrition.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Google charging into social media

I read an article today about Google adding social networking features to gmail. I've been exposed a little via their social interface for the reader tool, allowing me to share my top picks and receive friends top picks.

Seems logical, and minimalist. I would be tempted to use the features if well done, as I already use Google Docs, gmail, google voice, and other google services and think they are mostly well done. They also don't seem to undergo radical change (even the ones that are in "beta" like gmail for 5 years) like facebook every 5 months infuriating people.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Temporal Weaknesses in Modern Data Mining

I read an interesting article by a guy I met (Jeff Jonas) in Cozumel who also did the Ironman. He talked about the temporal disparity in the availability of information and how it caused the terrorist to slip through the cracks recently. He specifically highlighted the issue of tracking a "person" or identity across things like borders, languages, and scenarios like people who change their name (meaning you'd have to track the name change and TRANSFORM queries based on the search TIME) I just wrote him with some comments and thoughts. I thought his article along with some thoughts on the technology required to solve the problem would be interesting to ponder.

 You could certainly store a query and some locking structure like stored procedure that enques data, or just a link to the modified record. But then you have a whole set of problems like deciding how often to process that data. Real time would certainly be too expensive.

Still even if you did something weekly I bet you'd catch a lot of interesting stuff, and possibly save some problems. Much like a human domain expert would remember some references, it would be good to keep
interesting terms, and certainly high priority items, in a distributed state where the local DB updates the requestor (include these fields in a protocol, say based on SIP or some other protocol to track locations/addresses, priority, longevity, and pass information in XML) and you could have distributed short term intelligence. Then you also have to think about how long to maintain searches, likely again in the context of resources. And then migration of infrastructure......

Still, those problems will be surmounted eventually. Especially if they are all controlled (not advocating gov control, just that a lot of info is always in the gov's hands) by one person. Certainly people could also provide services that crawl google only as records change, and then parse results etc. Engines that are open databases like the new
Wolfram search engine could be used, and profit in this way. Hmmm. Cool technology and a business model.

Some comments back from Jeff. I asked him about my thoughts. He implied it could be done with well thought out stored procedures:

Anyway, about your question .... Nope. 

Data finds queries must be real-time.  And yes this scales to billions of rows.  The trick is to store the queries, as if data, with the data.  It is all data. 

In fact, real-time scales better than batch: