Monday, December 04, 2017

Thoughts of the day - morning of Monday December 4th, 2017: Big Bangs and hypotheses; U2 and Economics

Inputs:

  1. Reading Dan Brown's Origin - not finished yet, but hitting climax on futurist hypotheses reminding me of Yuval Noah Harari's Home Deus.
  2. U2's performance of American Soul on Saturday Night Live.
  3. Make Me Smart podcast - episode 41 - Do you hear the people sing.  So much to understand, but what to do with the new smarts?

Ideas:
  1. Building on a Flickr group title as the basis of what I'm trying to say - The World Through My Eyes.
  2. Using the Red Pill / Blue Pill concept from The Matrix - do you want to continue to live in this fake world, or do you want to know the truth?
  3. What percentage of people who watch The Big Bang Theory believe in the big bang?

Friday, December 01, 2017

Is sports the best reality TV ?

Disclaimer: I'm not a real fan of reality TV.  I watch the occasional music competition or food contest, but for the most part I don't like the fabricated games and exploited stories.

So, I've been known to say on many occasions that the best kind of reality TV is sports.  In my opinion, you can't get any better than the unpredictability of a live sports event and as the commentators often say - the scriptwriters have a field day - what with all the off-field backstory mixed with the on-field rivalries, battles, campaigns and super-human achievements.


But recently I've been looking at this from a different perspective.  I think my original claim is accurate, but only if you're an neutral observer or your team (player) wins.  But what happens when your team loses ? 

I watch a lot of sport and invest many hours watching playoffs, "big" games and global sporting events where many times the result is of no real consequence to me.  I simply enjoy a tight-fought competition from world class athletes. 

I hope I can say, that everyone has experienced the euphoria of their team winning - what a natural high when your team makes a great play, scores, wins the game or comes out on top of a season-long campaign.  That's why we watch our favourites compete on TV (or in person), many fans like me invest a huge amount of time watching our favourites and some of us have lots of favourites across different sports.  I live in Toronto and we're lucky to have a large number of professional sports teams, but it can consume a large amount of time!

But what a difference when your favourites have a poor game, fall inches or seconds short of a major victory, can't seem to stop a downhill slide, don't live up to their potential, appear disrespectful or your loyalty or make you so angry you could throw something at that expensive plat screen 50" television.  That's just a awful feeling and it can often stay with you for hours or perhaps even longer, just ask a Maple Leafs hockey fan or England soccer fan. 

So there's the rub, be careful what you ask for.  So if you want the emotional rollercoaster ride of sports to either simply witness the finest of athletic ability, or invest your time and emotions in a favourite for a chance at glorious euphoria - be wary that it could bring some true sorrow to your life.  Who really wants to take a chance at adding more misery to their lives? Well, I only hypothesize that the longer lasting effects of the thrill of victory is worth the short-lived agonies of defeat*.

*taken from the famous introductory words of ABC's The Wide World of Sports





Friday, November 24, 2017

The problem with being a polymath

I found out that the formal word for a Renaissance Man is a polymath.  A good friend of mine gave me the very kind comment of calling me a Renaissance Man many years ago.  Although Renaissance Man has a nice ring to it, I think I like polymath - seems far less highbrow - so perhaps I'm now more comfortable saying I'm a modest polymath, and, I'm a mathie (BMath from the University of Waterloo), so maybe I'll stick with it.  A quick side note - I had always said a BMath was quite unusual, so a quick look at Wikipedia sheds some light on my BMath degree.

By the true definition of polymath, saying I'm a person whose "expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas" is a big stretch, but I do have expertise in a few specific areas such as digital data security, photography and ultimate frisbee, but I have far more deep interests in many other things in my life, including: film; TV; comedy; videography; football (soccer); reading; traveling; wine; writing / blogging / vlogging; technology; discovering, organizing and curating music.   

So what's the problem?

How do I chose, prioritize and balance my many interests.  

Some of my interests fall into place quite nicely - my job allows my to focus on digital data security during business hours.  I play ultimate frisbee year-round and have weekly game commitments.  My favourite football teams play on a set schedule and I'm tempted to enjoy wine at almost every evening meal.  But what about the times that I have free and can pick and chose what I do?  

This topic also touches on something I've probably written about before - balance.  I'm not sure if my desire for balance relates to my being a Libra, but there's something there.  So, I think I could put these interests into four categories (skipping sleep): learn something;do something; create (and share) something; and entertainment.



So as I get interested in more and more things (Freakonomics podcasts) and I want to learn about more and more things (drones), I risk becoming less of an expert in other things (photography).   And that's what is starting to happen - new-found distractions and oow-shiny moments are causing a frequent bout of indecision and wasted time.   

On the flip side of polymathy, many a wise person has said that in life you should find what you're good at and do that thing as best you can.  Well, I'm kind of good at a few things and think I could be good at many others.   Many people think I'm a good photographer, but I know I can be much better with more learning and practice.   But when is it good enough? This perhaps taps into a family trait of perfectionism, which I've seen can be a powerful force in human behaviour and one I'm a little wary of.

Here's another pseudo-problem.  The sage advice from many successful photographers, filmmakers and other artists is you have to have a specialty.  On the web, people can be highly discretionary and find exactly what they want.  So what's the chance that someone like me who spans many subject matters appeals to the modern googler and what are the odds I can create a loyal following.  Whenever I think of specializing, I think about the other things I'll miss and other things I can contribute to.

So, I think I need to trim things a little and get back to what I'm truly good at and can contribute in a worthwhile fashion.  I have to accept that I'm maybe not going to be a hit 50 year old something vlogger, perhaps I should try and enjoy the mess of my iTunes playlists and recognize there's just not enough time in the day to watch every Netflix original series.  I've got a big backlog of photographs to edit and publish, some modest video footage to cobble together and my favourite sports to watch and play.  What more do I need?

I still like being a polymath and a Renaissance Man.  Last night was an interesting example, I went to the Horseshoe Tavern to see an old time favourite band, 54-40, with a friend from ultimate.  He met at Bar Hop's new Peter Street location and also ended up there after the concert.  I enjoyed a wide variety of liquid libation and many deep conversations on an even wider array of subjects - we could have talked all night (and almost did).  And it was a nice balance of yin and yang, like sharing my expertise in encryption and learning a lot more the auto racing industry.  All with a backdrop of our love of music, food and drink.