Category Archives: Jeneral findings

Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-06-29

Obama and Amazing Grace, what’s keeping America (and in a growing way Canada) so bitterly divided on so many fronts, the US Supreme Court ruling that love is love, and figure skating as an X Game event? These are my Jeneral Finds of the week (or rather, month): 2015-06-29

  • Please, make the time and effort to watch the entirety of President Obama’s eulogy of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the 9 fatal victims of the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina 8 days earlier on June 17, 2015. It is tempting to skip straight to the end when Obama sings a portion of “Amazing Grace”. But have patience, it is even more moving and significant when you have the full weight of Obama’s speech leading up to it. He not only celebrates and honours the lives lost, he urges a rallying cry to continue the work to fight against the prejudices and racism both overt and subtle. There’s a brilliant cadence in his delivery, and marks him as one of this generation’s noted orators.  
    (here’s a great discussion on why Obama’s use of grace as a central theme is so powerful)
  • Two opinion pieces that emerged after this tragedy serves up thought-provoking ideas on the root causes for such continued and visceral divisions in contemporary American society. Anti-intellectualism is Killing America from David Niose argues that “[s]ocial dysfunction can be traced to the abandonment of reason”. A direct response from Ravi Chandra posits that No, Self-Centeredness is Killing America: A lack of empathy is at the root of our ills. I think the truth lies in the combination of the two.
  • Congratulations USA on your Supreme Court ruling that the US Constitution to guarantee same-sex marriages as a right! The timing could not have been any more perfect, to coincide with Gay Pride celebrations all over, including here in Toronto. We’re glad you’ve seen the light!
  • On a lighter note, I just heard today about a new figure skating competition form that is exclusively based on the jumps, and will take on more of an X-Games vibe. Meet “Freezer Aerials“! (that’s a terrible name though, it should find a new moniker). The purist in me scoffs at the idea, but I realize skating needs to evolve for the sport to survive and attract an audience outside of the ardent fan. I just hope they don’t get to the point where skaters have their own theme songs they enter the arena in.

~Jen

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Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-05-31

This week’s finds: the grace of mastering code debugging, mental health, and a commencement speech that is staying with me. 2015-05-31

  • If you’re not a developer and don’t know what debugging other people’s code is like, this particular post “An Arrival” describes the process with particular poetic elegance, using the analogy of going on an archeological dig quite effectively.  The writer is someone who is a newer code developer, and building on her skills and experience.
  • The Globe is doing an excellent in-depth series on mental health, “Open Minds”. I have members of my family with mental illness and so it’s always encouraging to see more public discussion taking place about this. This personal account from one of the Globe’s business reporters really affected me, as he is a similar age as me with a young family:  “Niall McGee didn’t believe in depression—until cancer medication put him in a suicidal spiral
  • It’s graduation time across the land, and celebrity commencement speeches are in the news. This lead me to read for the first time the 2005 commencement speech by David Foster Wallace. A powerful read that is still making me muse. “The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.” —This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life. 

~Jen

Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-05-22

In this week’s finds:  a definitive take down of the vulgar FHRITP heckling, the stay-at-home-moms of New York’s Upper East Side, and the value of living an examined life. I know the duration of “week” between Jeneral finds posts is erratic (it’s been what, 16 days since my last one?), but I’ll hope you’ll bear with me.

  • Of all the things I’ve read dealing with the vulgar heckling epidemic that female reporters have been facing in the last year, this piece by Tabatha Southey in the Globe has been one of the best. In it she expertly decimates any argument that tries to excuse the behaviour or declare his firing is an overreaction or a feminist witch hunt against guys just having fun. (In case you missed the context: Nearly two weeks ago a video went viral of a live-scene reporter confronting some men outside of BMO field after a Toronto FC game. She was sick and tired of putting up with multiple idiots yelling a particular sexual harrassment phase into her microphone as they passed that she decided to ask one of them why he did it. His and his friend’s response was not endearing to say the least, and it made the news a couple days later that one of them lost his job because of it. At least he has since apologized to her.)
  • In the latter part of last year when I was trying to decide what my next step was going to be, one option could have been to become a stay at home mom. I always felt unease with that choice for myself. This op-ed, Poor Little Rich Womenlikely distorts and amplifies my fears of divulging my power, status and self-identity in my relationship with my husband. Our financial and relationship situation isn’t anything like the ones profiled here, and yet…how can anyone guarantee it would never end up the same way? Still, the lifestyles of the truly rich are beyond my understanding, as is their self-selecting choice to sex-segregate their much of their socializing.
  • The importance of keeping a notebook is another reassurance that this blogging thing is something I should make an effort to keep doing.

~Jen

Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-05-06

Two of the finds this week are longer reads, but I found them worth the time investment. The third is food for thought for attracting, and keeping, women into the STEM fields. Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-05-06.

  • In Walking the Tornado Linemagazine journalist Justin Nobel goes on a walking journey in Alabama and Tennessee following the path of a mile-wide monster tornado on April 27, 2011 chewed up everything in its path for 132 miles. But the piece is more than a mere chronicle of the people and places impacted and tally of things destroyed. As he collects the stories from people who lived through it, and relays his own walking journey through Alabama during tornado season, his writing style conjures up clear and haunting imagery in the imagination. There is an underlying sense of dread, never feeling safe in the elements, like a great suspense novel or movie. I didn’t realize how I take for granted the lack of tornados in the places I’ve lived, until I read this.

    On the fourth night of my journey I camp in woods owned by a Baptist deacon named Sammy Swinney. It was here in the rolling hills of northern Alabama where the April 27, 2011, tornado roared through at sixty-five miles per hour, a black cloud the width of twenty-five city blocks with winds stronger than any hurricane. And it was here in the sleepy farming community of Oak Grove that the tornado morphed into something truly unfathomable, and did things few people knew tornadoes could do: ate large brick homes straight through to the foundation, spawned side tornadoes that flanked the main like evil henchmen, climbed a mountain and rattled down a steep valley on the other side, turned an entire forest to spindles, and carried away cars and cows and people, too.

  • The update of the health curriculum in Ontario where I live has garnered a lot of debate and controversy over the sexual education component of it. Full disclosure: I am totally in support of all the changes, which is why I get so frustrated with those protesting against it…but that’s going to be another post. It’s in this climate that this essay published in the Globe and Mail grabbed my attention. Yes, her own backstory is lurid, but her wading through the challenges of educating her teenaged son about sexual health hit on so many of the points that I’ve been worried about when it comes to the impact of online pornography.

    Sierra Skye Gemma survived unthinkable childhood abuse. Now the loving mother of a teenaged son, she finds herself on a deeply personal journey to teach him a healthy attitude to sex in the age of online pornography.

  • This op-ed in the New York Times has a really interesting approach for positioning engineering to be attractive for women to study and pursue careers in: provide the socially beneficial context in which the engineering work will affect changes. On a surface look, it makes a lot of sense: making things for the sake of making the thing better/stronger/more featured than before is not so attractive to me. However, using engineering skills to help solve a problem in society? That is a better sell. Does it harken back to the days of my youth when much of the pretend play was about building a family and making sure everyone was taken care of? Maybe.

~Jen

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Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-04-27

Here are this week’s interesting things I’ve stumbled across: 2015-04-28

  • “The Internet’s Original Sin” is not pornography, as you might originally conclude. In this article in The Atlantic, one of the early developers of the web outlines how the good intentions of the heady days early days of the internet evolved into our current state of “advertising-supported, ‘free-as-in-beer’ constellation of social networks, services and content that represents so much of present day web industry… Surveillance as the default, if not sole, internet business model.” This is what happens when you refuse to pay money for things, you pay with a loss of your privacy and control of your data. The linked lecture by Maciej Ceglowski in 2014 is also an enlightening, if longer, read. Both should have you at least pondering whether you want to whole-heartedly and blindly continue to support this business model on the web. And whether we want our children to not know a choice.
  • There is a name for this affliction we have with our smart phones and social media, and it’s been around since 1998- Continuous Partial Attention. This interview with the person who coined the phrase, Linda Stone, had some points that really made me sit up and notice, such as “Kids learn empathy in part through eye contact and gaze. If kids are learning empathy through eye contact, and our eye contact is with devices, they will miss out on empathy.” http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/06/the-art-of-paying-attention/309312/
  • Following that call for mindfulness and attentiveness for the activity at hand is this:How We Spend Our Days Is How We Spend Our Lives: Annie Dillard on Presence Over Productivity
  • Then when I read this article The Full-Stack Employee, the juxtaposition of these ideas on how to be hyper-productive in today’s workforce against the previous ones of presence over productivity was amusing, for sure. But it’s still relevant for me to think about as I’ve returned to the workforce, and trying to figure out how to best stay valuable so I can demand concessions to be made on flexibility in my schedule.
  • Remember back in 2006 when the International Astronomical Union decided that Pluto was no longer classified as a planet? This video gives a good explainer why in less than 5 minutes. 

~Jen

Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-04-11

It’s quite a hiatus since my last finds post, but life has been busy tossing things at me to throw my routines off balance: a road-trip vacation, a new job, and the arrival of spring. I’m attempting to resume this habit now, as a means to track things that have really piqued my interest of late. Here goes, some of the interesting finds from the last few weeks: Continue reading Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-04-11

Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-03-01

Last weekend was a little crazy, filled with birthday parties, travellers returning home with jet lag, and temperamental water lines to the washing machine. So I skipped a week. Here are this week’s things I’ve stumbled across that have been interesting: 2015-03-01

  • Fried OKRA: A Management Framework for People Who Don’t Like Vegetables. This article on Medium takes an entertaining spin on a management framework.

  • Bruce Feiler gave this really inspiring TED talk with a cheeky tech title: “Agile Programming—for your family”.  But what it really boils down to are his 3 planks for working toward a less-stressed, more collaboratively-managed family dynamic: 1)Adapt all the time; 2)Empower your children; 3)Tell your story. I think it provides another tool/technique to use with the Adlerian philosophy for parenting, which we aim to follow in our household. I highly recommend this 18min watch. 
  • I also wanted to celebrate the historic ruling in the US that the FCC declared the internet to regulated as a public utility, which supports Net Neutrality and prevents the establishment of paid prioritzation, aka internet fast lanes, by cable companies and ISPs. This is huge news, but unfortunately many (most?) people don’t know or don’t care. This entertaining segment by John Oliver on his show Last Week Tonight last summer is a good explainer on why we should care.
  • Like so many of us, Chris Kirk at Slate was overwhelmed with dealing with his email every day. He was email-depressed. So he decided he would try to make his own email client to make one ideal to the way his mind wants to manage his email. His journey to do so would reveal a lot about the history of how email got to the state it is today, why changes to email functionality are so slow compared to other technologies, and some ideas going forward to manage work communications. (the Slack application is featured, and I just think about how I wish our teams had this years ago)

~Jen

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Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-02-15

Here are the good/interesting/provoking finds I’ve stumbled across this week: 2015-02-15

  • Lego! Who doesn’t love Lego, especially when someone is creative enough to create amazing things beyond the set instructions? There is this incredible replica of Michelagelo’s Creation of Adam: 
    Then there is also this astounding creation of Hogwarts by Alice Finch from the Harry Potter series, completely playable, taking 400,000 bricks and 12 months to build. Wow.Hogwarts

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/88574960@N02/sets/72157632858317817/  

  • One of the things the husband and I have chatted about is the overwhelming stream of data and content that is generated these days, and how transient and ephemeral much of it seems to be. You cannot take for granted that something published online by an individual will be there in 2 or 5 years, much less 25 or 50 years from now. And even if it does exist, how can we deign its existence without relying on search engines, that arguably have a bent towards monetizing the results? The democratization of media and information in this information age is fine in the present, but will the democratic contributions of individuals last to be reckoned in history? This article from Nautilus is food for thought about the competing ideologies for cataloging and organizing information and created content. What is surprising is that the ideologies actually emerged over 100 years ago, with the boom in media creation of that period (radio, telegraph, phonograph records, movies, and more). Interesting parallel to our current times.

~Jen

Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-02-08

Here are the good/interesting/provoking finds I’ve stumbled across this week: 2015-02-08

  • “Could we stop the anti-vaxxers if we said measles contains gluten?” Haha, Tabitha Southey hits a home run again. If logic, science and reason won’t work to convince anti-vaxxers, maybe sarcasm will?
  • Did you know that Ontario’s Ministry of Education’s curriculum on sexual education was last updated in 1998? Yes, from the early years of internet, before smartphones and social media. Two 13-year old girls are advocating for sex-ed reforms, and they are doing with with great maturity and articulation. The topic of consent is a large component of their suggestions. Just brilliant. I would hold them up as role models for my two girls.

~Jen

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Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-02-01

Here are the good/interesting/provoking finds I’ve stumbled across this week: 2015-02-01

  • I don’t know if you’ve caught this story from the photo blogger Humans of New York (HONY), but it’s the kind of thing that restores your faith in the decency of the human spirit and the good of the internet. This is the first post that I saw, and I’ve been following each post since. Any of the posts featuring Vidal or Ms. Lopez beings me to tears. What a great story. The indigogo fundraiser to provide their scholars the opportunity to visit Harvard, has become so successful they now have enough to have 10 years of Harvard visits, summer programs AND provide scholarships to future grads
  • Glassbreakers—a Tinder-like platform to match peer women in the tech field in your area with the intent to create peer mentorships. Like networking, but with a discernible purpose. http://m.fastcoexist.com/3041529/change-generation/women-in-tech-this-platform-will-match-you-to-peer-mentors-tinder-style
  • “Why I Am Not a Maker” [The Atlantic].  “When tech culture only celebrates creation, it risks ignoring those who teach, criticize, and take care of others.” Hear hear. I think in today’s day and culture, this extends past the creation of tech, and includes the glorification of the creation of money. Now how do we bring balance back to our society to value these other highly important contributors to our society?

~Jen

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