Friday Free-for-All – Look Twice, Save a Life!

Look Twice Save a Life - Runner

On Wednesday as I was out running I noticed a few lawn signs for the motorcycle safety campaign ‘Look Twice, Save a Life’. And since I had just done my ‘Slow the F Down’ post I was thinking how it would be great for drivers to be careful of all the runners out and about.

Here are some other thoughts this week:

Running – the weather has been hot and humid, but I am not complaining … it just awesome to toss on my shirt and shorts and GO! As a result I have been pushing it … I had done more than 70 miles last week, which caused me to look back: in May I’d done 29 of 31 days and over 250 miles, and was up to 14 out of 15 days in June with about 125 miles … and so I took off this Monday and will also be off all weekend and really try to get some rest.

Abs Challenge – I have been loving this challenge, but it has been a killer! Each day after my run I do my ab work and plank, and have happily gotten my planks well over 2 minutes, but they are TOUGH!

Rug burns on the elbows have improved by using towels, and my strength is definitely improved – carrying the air conditioners around wasn’t a big deal! The one thing – while my abs tighten, my skin does not … it is a reminder I will always carry with me.

Food – it is funny (and great) to feel like you are in touch with your body. As I have pushed the miles, my body has been very clear about wanting more, and so I have give it more. I have been happy that what it wants more of are fruits and healthy smoothies and veggies … but still, it is a great thing.

Also, I noticed just how many of my meals I cool are either Paleo or Vegan without even planning it that way – one night it was grilled Portobello with roasted vegetables and corn on the cob, the next grilled chicken with grilled veggies … it is amazing how these habits can enter into our lives so thoroughly that we don’t know they are there.

Why I care so much about ALL of this ‘Social Justice’ stuff

I have been asked a number of times why I have such a strong stance on ‘social justice’ issues, and I think I can sum it up pretty easily:
– Getting picked on for being fat in elementary school definitely had an impact. I am not a violent person, but all of my fights were in elementary school, and all come back to being made fun of for being fat. THAT has impacted my ‘view of the underdog’ throughout my life.
– I was best friends with the only ‘person of color’ in our baseball league … and I really had no idea about what that was like for him until seeing racism in action – what I got for being fat he got MUCH worse for something that was beyond his control.
– I had a few gay friends in high school, some who were ‘out’ and others who didn’t come out until later. Those who did took loads of abuse from so many people, which really bothered me (see above). Yet I didn’t know the extent of their abuse for many years …
– Going to RPI in the early 80s was a mostly-male world, and what women were there were typically stereotyped by the outside world in a certain way. In Troy there was an all-woman’s college (Russell Sage) … and THOSE women were stereotyped in an entirely different way (the ‘joke’ was that the most popular degree program was the ‘MRS’ degree). I knew women from both schools to be smart, funny and all-around great people. Heck, I even married one.

As a result I have always felt strongly about one thing: we are all people, and deserve to be treated fairly and equally. It seems so simple and obvious, yet it remains elusive as it seems that some will find the most irrational and unlikely reasons to pile hate on others. That said, I have seen progress in my life … and hope I continue to see more, and that I am right that so much of what we see are ‘last gasps of desperation’ from racists and misogynists and homophobes.

Did anyone get the reference?

I love how Cori and Laura have the ability to suggest songs into my head. I tend to drop a number of ‘lines’ and references into posts, some more obscure than others. In the ‘Slow the F Down’ post part of the title was ‘hey you there’.

That cracked me up as I included it … but realized that it was unlikely anyone would get it. So I have to explain it anyway – in the computer game Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, most of the game is excellent, but the Stormtroopers have little variety in what they said ‘stop Rebel scum’, ‘don’t let him get away’, and my fave – ‘hey you there’ … uttered hundreds of times through the 25 hour game! haha … well, I cracked myself up anyway 🙂

Speaking Of Video Games

Have you ever noticed that every main character in a video-game is a 30-something grizzled white dude? Well, if not … you haven’t played many games! I noted recently how a dozen years or so ago I was roundly thrashed in one particular game forum for noting the positive female image one game had presented. Um … yeah. And it hasn’t improved.

At the latest game conference (E3) publisher Ubisoft – whose games fit perfectly into the “Ubisoft: Straighter. Whiter. Duder.” description Shamus Young used to describe them.

Bottom line – video game development is a ‘dude bro’ culture, which is sad because ‘nerds’ were supposed to go against the ‘dude-bro’ culture. Shamus has a great take on it here:

I want to stress that I’m not coming at this from a social justice angle. This is about business and creativity. If Straight White Dudegames are really where the safe money is at (and I’m extremely skeptical on this point) then I’m really not going to demand a corporation like Ubisoft to deliberately make less money in order to make things more “fair”. I know some people do. That’s fine. This social justice stuff gets touchy, and in the end we’re all just trying to make the hobby the best it can be.

But like I said in the column, this is a hard thing to test and Ubisoft hasn’t even tried. (Read the article before nitpicking this.) And no matter which way the money goes, Ubisoft is still creatively impotent. Like, even if you can prove that games won’t sell unless the protagonist is a straight white dude, there’s still no excuse for Adrian Pearce, who has less personality than Gordon Freeman’s crowbar and less depth than the Adventure rectangle.

Further to the ‘Sexism in Gaming’ problem, NPR notes how one developer chose to compare a software service execution framework … to his girlfriend. With predictably sexist results.

And finally on the Ubisoft & E3 sexism front, GI.biz notes that it always seems to be inclusivity – different genders, races, nationalities – that always gets cut. It nicely rounds out the points that Shamus was making.

As I have noted, I am definitely a gaming fan, but although I was playing shooters from the very start (had Doom on a laptop right after it came out as we drove up to Maine for the weekend), I have never been a fan of the console macho-game culture. Right now I am playing ‘Might & Magic X: Legacy’, a continuation of the classic role-playing saga I had started playing nearly three decades ago.

Why the Amazon Fire Phone Will Fail

Did you hear that Amazon was launching a phone? Guess what? You probably won’t buy it – I won’t buy it, and nor will most people. I am predicting its sales will be rounding error compared to the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phones … and not even hold up against the HTC phones and Microsoft’s anemic Windows Phone platform. Why?

I love this quote:

Amazon has spent years developing a phone that addresses zero needs and relies on features that no one wants.

There are definitely some cool things:
– Firefly recognition technology – see a book or piece of art or running shoes you want … point your phone at them and your Fire phone will help you buy them … from Amazon.
– Unlimited Free Photo Storage – this just stepped things up major-bigtime! Add to this a nice looking 13MP low-light capable camera, and you have a real winner
– 3D tracking with four low-power cameras. Advanced face tracking
– Tight Amazon integration.

But … then there is all of this:
– Mediocre specs – getting the Samsung Galaxy S4 from last year is a better phone
– Pricing – now THIS was actually surprising, but for a ‘mid-range’ phone you are paying ‘flagship’ prices – $650 for the base phone without contract.
– AT&T exclusive – by doing this they essentially throw away more than TWO-THIRDS of possible customers. I am sure that they are doing this because AT&T seems to be the place to launch for favorable terms (like the iPhone, Nokia’s Windows Phones, HTC’s ‘Facebook Phone’, etc). But … if that is the reason, why not attack with price?

The worst thing is that I should be part of the target audience for the phone, and I had made my decision before the product announcement live-stream was over.

Why should they want me? I have been on Amazon since … forever – I have order info going back more than 17 years. I am a long-time Prime member, have an extensive Kindle library, own Kindle, had every Kindle Fire up to the new Kindle Fire HDX, have loads of apps and games, am part of their digital video game system, have the new Fire TV with game controller, and we spend more money there than just about anywhere … basically I am pretty well committed to the Amazon ecosystem.

But I also live in a Verizon-only area, and with an all-iPhone house Amazon would have to give me a good reason to switch – and a load of stuff that does nothing for me but helps them sell more stuff is NOT it!

What about you?

Resiliance

I reblogged this yesterday, but I really think it is a great and important message. Here is the original.

The Passing of Another Legend Leads to a Reflection on Life

This past week has seen the passing of a number of celebrities and artists, and as often happens the majority are not widely known people who will be featured on news and entertainment shows, but journeymen artists such as jazz musicians Aaron Sachs and Jimmy Scott.

The two that crossed my news streams the most were baseball legend Tony Gwynn and jazz piano legend Horace Silver. There are articles everywhere about the two, but I love this take from Tony Gwynn’s batboy, and this retrospective on Horace Silver by Marc Myers.

When death impacts us directly it can be devastating – we get consumed by grief and sadness and despair. Yet what most of us want to leave behind is a legacy that makes people smile … for people to say ‘do you remember that time when … ‘ and have warm and happy thoughts.

I have been thinking about this because over the last couple of weeks there have been all sorts of other life-reflecting things: at work I know of people who have died or had cancer diagnosis or been hospitalized; same with friends outside of work – two friends from our past are dealing with cancer … and the sad reality is you know there is no guarantee. I know I am at that age when people start dying ‘young’, but from afflictions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes that typically impact older people.

Kind of a heavy topic, I know … and I guess my take-away is to say that you should spend your life creating the moments that people will remember rather than the money they can spend when you are gone.

Here is a great classic song from Horace Silver to take us out …