Postdoc in Cognitive and Behavioral Aritificial Intelligence through Evolution
My thoughts on our/America's Memorial Day and how I arrived at a universal Memorial Day.
~ Discovering Memorial Day ~
If you're American, then today -- May 27th -- the last Monday in May, is also known as Memorial Day. I'm American, 34 years old, and have three relatives and two grandfathers who have served in the armed forces and they've lived through some terrible war experiences. However, I always feel a little bad about Memorial day; not because I dislike it, but because I don’t seem to have the intuition or connection to appreciation about sacrifice that other people express. I've thankfully not experienced the loss of close loved ones as a result of their serving, but I still want to understand. So doing what I usually do, I researched the matter. In doing so, I found a very personal and passionate relationship with Memorial Day, though it’s probably not a typical one.
One great way to get to know your own country is through the eyes of someone from the outside. The web site www.uscis.gov is the site for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. To help those coming to the United States understand our holidays, they have this description about today: Memorial Day is a holiday to "remember and honor the men and women who died in service to the United States," which is roughly what I could’ve come up with on my own. After that I read several nicely written articles from digital newspapers discussing the holiday with various opinions and quotes from other citizens. The underlying message was pretty clear: remember their sacrifice, and appreciate the benefit. But I wasn't any closer to feeling like I understood the holiday. Something was bothering me.
If you ask anyone who knows me, you'll find out I'm an inclusive person, and I like to recognize the efforts of others where recognition is due. Maybe that's why this delineation of memorial appreciation by status of death was bothering me. Death is the ultimate sacrifice, so it's understandable why those who gave their life should be remembered. But there are other kinds of sacrifice too and I feel they should also be honored. Do the people who sacrificed but didn't lose their life get their own honoring holiday? The answer is "well, kind of."
There are two other holidays in the United States to honor various modes of service: Veterans Day to honor those no longer in active service, and Armed Forces Day to honor those currently in active service. This notion that we have three different holidays to honor and remember people based on their different types of sacrifice got me thinking about sacrifice. What kinds of sacrifice are there that go unnoticed without a holiday? For example, the families back home that survive without one or more family members, or the communities who lost members of the maturing generation.
At this moment, I'd like to give a respectful nod to Mr. Paul Bucha, who I discovered while reading about Memorial Day. Mr. Bucha gave an inspiring talk for last year's Memorial Day (2018) about a very similar topic, on the notion that we should expand our sphere of concern to all those affected by sacrifice for the country, and to do more than just say "Thank You," that we should channel that gratitude into energy to help address the social and economic gap that affects many service families from poorer areas. But what I'm talking about here is not that.
Sacrifice isn't always a formal agreement with an understandable risk. Sometimes sacrifice is thrust upon people, even people who have nothing to do with the cause. I believe these people also deserve some thought, since they won't get a holiday in their name. But this is where my thought journey takes an unexpected turn.
In any struggle there is sacrifice by volunteers fighting for the cause and by victims of the conflict. This is true in war, in politics, in cities, and neighborhood cultures. In every case, there are two or more voices, either honest or dishonest, but with conflicting messages saying "THIS is the way it should be for the best common good the for everyone!" In war we vote with bombs, bullets, and bodies, in politics we vote with money and ballots, and in neighborhoods we vote with social norms and public face. We hope that on average over time the common good will indeed win out. Money, corruption, economic gaps, backlash, and racism all make this more difficult, but with enough noise we move public opinion.
We are one diverse people, and no one person knows what is best for the most common good for everyone. Understandably, it is hard to figure this out, whether the subjects are countries, states, cities, or neighborhoods. Many people know how hard it is to get even a small committee to agree on something! Moving forward to find the best common good requires sacrifice in a dynamic struggle of needs and opinions. Some people volunteer their sacrifice, and others are circumstantial victims.
To me, Memorial Day and those like it are about recognizing both the need for, and cost of, this messy struggle, and honoring those who honestly gave from both sides or were touched by the conflict. Not just for wars and the lives lost, but for the sacrifices made by those affected by wars on both sides, those who campaign for a cause, or speak out on either side about human rights, deforestation, racial equality, gender equality, food safety, religious freedoms, education, immigration, abortion, or vaccination. Some sacrificed their lives, limbs, psychological fortitude, a family, their weekends, their reputation, or their paychecks. Sacrifice is the side effect of our plodding progress on a journey where the path is unknown and the way forward murky, but we must forge ahead through conflict all together or not at all.
Tonight I'm thinking about my Grandfathers who fought in World War II, but I'm also now thinking about everyone else affected by conflict and how bittersweet their sacrifice is for our species.
Awesome new use of AI by my colleagues to help us gain understanding in the social sciences: https://theconversation.com/we-asked-artificial-intelligence-to-analyze-a-graphic-novel-and-found-both-limits-and-new-insights-107331
[Advent of Code 2018](https://adventofcode.com/2018) is going on right now - it's a fun holiday-themed 2-problems-a-day code kata challenge. You are given the input and asked for the output. It's put together quite well and is a good example of small exercises.
Joy Rankin firing MSU. We support you Joy! https://medium.com/@drjoy/why-im-firing-michigan-state-sexual-harassment-online-harassment-and-utter-institutional-6663a6bde68e
To its credit, PowerPoint has built-in LaTeX support.
Would anyone be interested in a free PowerPoint/Keynote made for academics? Features would be tailored toward encouraging good presentation / good communication and easing burden of things like references, and displaying complex ideas/figures:
* win/linux/mac no installation
* videos ALWAYS work
* built-in LaTeX
* templates and suggestions designed with Good Presentation practices in mind
* tools to "build up" complex figures / unhide parts
* tools for handing in-slide references nicely and easily
* import also svg and 3D obj
* fancy align/copy/distribute functions and animation functions (like copy shape and distribute Normally with radius X)
* syntax highlighting (R, python, c++...)
I searched around and there are really no alternatives out there for what I want. I'm toying around with an early prototype now (in those 5 minutes of free time between Sunday and Monday!)
It's so satisfying to see a favorite software implementing every feature I want on a nearly weekly basis. #godotengine [community] is awesome. Simplex Noise was just added! I had to shoehorn that myself last time.
I finally sat own and learned #docker so I never have to install my data analysis workflow again. This now works cross platform! The only annoying thing is Windows Home (what most people have, even my 'business line' laptop) requires a $100 upgrade to Pro to allow you to run docker.
Meanwhile, linux is free, and OSX is $20, both with all necessary features... </x-platform world problems>
I say 'interesting' because I haven't found twitter/snapchat/instagram useful enough to keep using them, but a lot of people do, and now they're using it as a primary source. I'm curious to learn more about how people on those channels vet sources.
An interesting expose on how the younger generation accesses news today: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/08/trump-has-changed-how-teens-view-the-news/568783/
Yea I think I know the people you are refering to as well. While they tend to be polite, they make me feel the same way. Part of what I want to do here is instead of exiling people with opinions we dont like to try to build a bridge and to make them more receptive to why their ideas are harmful.
But I understand why they may bother you. I dont think creating an echo chamber of people with just opinions we like is a good answer either.
For me personally at least this is the purpose of the mute function.
Postdoc in Cognitive and Behavioral Aritificial Intelligence through Evolution
QOTO: Question Others to Teach Ourselves
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