Leaving Facebook

I’m not sure I ever trusted Facebook with my personal data but I have most of the time found enough value in its service to overlook the drawbacks. With news of the 2016 election influence and underhanded decisions by Facebook since then, I have decided to tip the scales the other way and leave the service.

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I recently came across this collection of drawings by Julia Evans. This one resonated with me:

Productive Conversations by Julia Evans

trick: talk about statements being wrong, not people being wrong. (“that’s not correct”, etc). We’re all working towards truth together

I think a lot of what goes wrong in public discourse today comes from our willingness to deploy ad hominem attacks which, by their nature, cause people to retreat from rational dialog. Challenging ideas and facts is a better way to engage than always skewering people. Maybe we should stick to asking questions.

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On August 21, 2017 I and my family were lucky enough to be able to travel into the path of totality to view a solar eclipse. I’d been wanting to do so for a few months and with a little planning and a ton of luck we got what we came for.

Solar eclipse stages, August 21, 2017

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Not being quite content with the color of this particular bike shed, I posted this on Facebook April 10:

The forceful removal of the UAL passenger is very unfortunate and seems to smell pretty badly. But here’s the thing: UAL is within its right to do this. They ask the guy to leave after random selection. He doesn’t (or sneaks back on). Security arrives. Then what? How does this go anywhere but straight to hell? I don’t get it. Do they just plead with him for a few hours? Move onto the next person? The security guy was apparently not acting appropriately (duh) but I still don’t see how the passenger can think this goes anywhere favorable for himself. Ditto for traffic stops that go badly (modulo some very bad incidents involving obviously biased behavior). Guy with gun tells you to do something, fucking do it. Challenge it in court once it is over.

I stand by my statement regarding the victim’s resistance to armed guards. I don’t think that’s the time or place to challenge authority in most cases. However, I got the part about UAL wrong, particularly the bit about having the right to deplane passengers in an overbook situation. Airlines do have this right but in this case, the flight was actually not overbooked:

In fact, as careful readers know, United wanted to free up four seats so that crew members could fly to from O’Hare to Louisville. The excuse for United’s urgency was that if these crew members didn’t get to their flight, it would create cascading delays. Early accounts can be excused for this error, since the initial tweets with the appalling videos described the cause as overbooking. But any article published more than 24 hours after the story broke has no excuse for getting this basic and important detail wrong, particularly after United CEO Oscar Munoz said the flight was indeed not overbooked.

The whole piece is worth reading.

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Hail Mary voting

There are plenty of reasons and justifications for why Donald Trump “beat the odds” and won the presidency last November. The most compelling, I think, is this one laid out by Mark Cuban in his interview with Nate Silver:

I made a huge mistake in how I evaluated it, obviously. I thought logic and common sense and facts mattered to most voters. But the reality is, we all — including all of us here — tend to take the path of least resistance.

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I’ve been reading – and greatly enjoying – Scott Alexander’s writing over at Slate Star Codex. I don’t recall how I first ran across this trove of deep though but it’s worth noting that /r/slatestarcodex is also a thing.

Among his (self-selected?) best-of list is this gem from 2013 entitled A Thrive/Survive Theory of the Political Spectrum. Part way through, he gives up the goods:

Okay, I’ll put you out of your misery and tell you my hypothesis now. My hypothesis is that rightism is what happens when you’re optimizing for surviving an unsafe environment, leftism is what happens when you’re optimized for thriving in a safe environment.

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Intel announced their Compute Card at this year’s CES as a better-thought-out version of their existing Compute Stick. AnandTech:

The Intel Compute Card has been designed to be a universal computing platform for different kinds of devices, including those that do not exist yet. The ultimate goal is to simplify the way companies develop equipment, use, maintain, repair, and upgrade it. Creators of actual devices have to design a standard Intel Compute Card slot into their product and then choose an Intel Compute Card that meets their requirements in terms of feature-set and price.

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Atlas V Launch

You might think it odd that a guy who grew up in Florida never witnessed a rocket launch up close. Alas, I attended my first this past weekend. My kids, having an ever increasing appetite for spaceflight, came with me. We all enjoyed it immensely.

Atlas V EchoStar XIX launch

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Chris Bredesen

Father, husband, skeptic, geek.

Engineering manager at Red Hat

Orlando, FL