It Is An Honor To Say “GoodBye”.

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.

C.S. Lewis
An AI-Generated Image

First, i hope everyone is safe, especially on this day when belief systems ran completely amok. Second, this day also holds a place for me that i will not go into but if you are a good internet sleuth you can figure it out.

Today i did something i have never done nor did i think i could do because of several factors. However into the breach once more and low and behold i pulled it off. The man with me is an expert at this activity and gave me some pointers as to how to perform the said activity. As i was saying goodbye to the man who is one of the closest people in my life we volitionally hugged each other and shook hands a certain way.

On this day i reflected on an Uber ride that i had years ago where a man picked me up. We started talking as it was a pretty good drive from SFO to the Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel where i was speaking.

There are places I’ll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain

All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

The driver as it turns out was a former senior salesperson at salesforce. As i always say you never know what someone has been through so don’t judge them by how they make a living. We discussed most of the “-isms” and then he said, “Mr Ted i found comfort in the christian bible. Have you read it?” i said i have read it three times and i prefer the old testament. i asked him why? he said it helped him through the hard times of his life. He was talking about his family in past tense and i was very sensitive to prying to much into his business. i asked him what type of hardships. He said his family lived during the years of Pol Pot and the Cambodian genocide and his family were all murdered. i really didnt know what to say except “My Condolences”. He said, “Thank you Mr Ted. i have found peace and remember it is an honor to say goodbye to someone and to always make it count as you never know when you will see them again. As a matter of fact i do not tell people Goodbye i say i love you or be safe.”

We arrived at the Marine Hotel. We got out of the car and he said , “Mr Ted it has been an honor speaking with you i hope you enjoy your life. Be Safe Mr Ted.”

That left an indelible imprint on my mind.

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

On 9.11 – Today many lost loved ones. Grief, as Mr Lewis states, is very much like fear except you cannot Un-Grieve. You can be unafraid. Grief, as it turns out, is never-ending. There is no invertible transformation that makes you not grieve.

We have been so programmed to buck it up – suck it up, buttercup that everything tries to gloss over the loss. Whether a human or a family pet, it is ok to grieve. There are people and animals in my life that i will never recover from losing and for the longest time i beat myself up for not bucking up buttercup.

Further contemplating this i believe Grief is fractal. Zoom in on a fractal it evolves and changes yet holds the same shape ad infinitum1.

Mandelbrot Set Generated Fractal

Grief as it turns out appears at least to me to be closely aligned. The more you peel it back the more complex it gets.

Same Fractal Zoomed

Does time heal Grief? Not really. It is the memory that fades. Ergo other memories fade as a function of our leaky memory system.

We deal with healing in different ways. The Uber driver found solace in a religious text, others workout, some self-medicate, others try to replace the human or animal.

We want it to go away.

i say we should acknowledge the pain of grief and realize it and let it happen then further acknowledge that the next person or animal who is essential to you, use the opportunity and find strength in telling them “Be Safe, See ya Real Soon, or i love you more.” However above all, if you cherish that friend or loved one, it is an honor to tell them upon them walking out the door. Let them know it.

Until Then,

#iwishyouwater. <- Laird Hamilton on a Paddle board

@tctjr

Muzak To Blog By: A band called Papir.

[1] The Mandelbrot set is the set of complex numbers c for which the function

    \[f_{c}=z^2+c\]

does not diverge to infinity when iterated from

    \[z=0\]

What Are You Good At?

Panda Says…

The thing that you are most comfortable with that you do the best.

Steve Vai

First as always i hope everyone is safe. Second this blog is out of band so to speak. This question was posited to me during a technical discussion with some great folks whom i had just met and we were discussing re-tooling and scaling enterprise systems.

Completely almost non-sequitur this executive asked:

Q: What do you think you are good at?

There isnt too many times when i am personally caught off gaurd but i stopped and replied “Well that is a great question. So good in fact i am going to write a blog if you dont mind. “

Which then got me to thinking:

Q: If you really truly love what you are doing is it really work?

Not at all.

This goes along with several of the blogs i have done in the past concerning – What Is IT You Truly Want?

So without any hubris or narcissism as far as i know or have been told what i am good at is the following:

Evidently, i have an uncanny ability to see what needs to be built with the right team and at a pretty good time or within a certain timeframe.

The other thing i am supposedly good at is getting people aligned and excited around a common vision to execute said code base or system(s).

i also take the title CTO very seriously. i do pride myself on keeping up with technology. i attempt to find out what works and what does not work. Mathematics and Software completely and unequivocally enthrall me. i am always either reading a book, paper or blog on a technical subject. i don’t really keep up with the normal outside world. So i can’t really comment on sports, movies, or the daily news. Ergo i don’t go around chasing fads however many times you do have to create net new warez. i tend to go deep on technical subjects before i bring them into an organization.

Really after thinking about all of this is it useful? After thinking more about it i really cannot say at this time. Maybe it’s an occupational hazard nowadays. However, it is what i maybe think i am good at so to speak.

However, i can assure you that holding that mirror up to yourself and looking deep into it is an exercise we should all do on a daily basis. As the famous song lyric goes “Chickity-check yo’ self before you wreck yo’ self”.

So finding out what you are really good at and strengthening that creates a self-perpetuating system. It has been said You Are Your Best Charity. If you truly enjoy what you are doing then it really isn’t work is it? This allows you to concentrate on what you are good at and then in turn Amplifying_OthersTM.

Find Your Passion At All Costs.

Become the system You are creating.

Then IT will naturally happen.

I posted this video of Steve Vai a long time ago in another blog and in another life. i ran across it while taking a break at 2:30 AM EST working on a very serious bug with a company i co-founded. It paused me. i always come back to it. While this is supposedly a master class with Steve Vai he never talks about guitar technique but 1rather how to be successful (really at anything).

Possibly the only thing that i think is more amazing than creating software is music creation. Here is Mr. Steve Vai doing what he does best. Do yourself a favor, watch and listen. i’ll hopefully be seeing him soon in Charleston, SC.

Vai Virtuosity

Would love some comments and feedback on this blog. While it is short i have to tell you it was difficult to type those couple of sentences.

Until Then,

#iwishyouwater <- Will Trubridge 60M Freedive in 60 seconds

@tctjr

Muzak To Blog By: Steve Vai.

What Is Your KulChure?

Got It?

We are organized like a startup. We are the biggest startup on the planet.

S. Jobs

First, i hope everyone is safe. Second, this blog is about something everyone seems to be asking me about and talking about, but no one seems to be able to execute the concept much like interoperability in #HealthIT. Third, it is long-form content so in most cases tl;dr.

CULTURE.

Let us look to Miriam-Websters OnLine Dictionary for a definition – shall we?

cul·​ture <ˈkəl-chər>

1

a: the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group also the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time ; popular culture, Southern culture

b: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization a corporate culture focused on the bottom line

c: the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic studying the effect of computers on print culture

d: the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations

2

a: enlightenment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training

b: acquaintance with and taste in fine arts, humanities, and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills; a person of culture

3: the act or process of cultivating living material (such as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient media also a product of such cultivation

4: CULTIVATIONTILLAGE

5: the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education

6: expert care and training; beauty culture

Wow, This sounds complicated. Which one to leave in and which one to leave out?

Add to this complexity the fact that creating and executing production software is almost an insurmountable task. i have said for years software creation is one of the most significant human endeavors of all time. i also believe related to these concerns the interplay between comfort and solutions. Most if not all humans desire solutions however as far as i can tell solutions are never comfortable. Solutions involve change most humans are homeostatic. Juxtapose this against the fact that humans love comfort. So what do you do?

So why does it seem like everyone is talking about kəl-chər? i consider this to be like Fight Club. 1st rule of kəl-chər is you don’t talk about culture. It should be an implicit aspect of your organization. Build or Re-Build it at a first principles engineering practice. Perform root cause analysis of the behaviors within the company. If it does in fact need to be re-built start with you and your leadership. Turn the mirror on you first. Understand that you must lead by example. Merit Not Inherit.

i’ve recently been asked how you change and align culture. Well here are my recommendations and it comes down to TRUST at ALL levels of the company.

Create an I3 Lab: Innovation, Incubation, Intrapreneurship:

Innovation without code is just ideas and everyone has them. Ideas are cheap. Incubation without product market fit is a dead code base. Intrapreneurship is the spirit of a system that encourages employees to think and act like individual entrepreneurs and empowers them to take action, embrace risk, and make decisions as if they had founded the company themselves. Innovate – create the idea – Incubate – create the Maximum Viable Product (not minimum) – Intrapreneurship – spin out the Maximum Viable Product. As an aside Minimum Viable Product sounds like you bailed out making the best you possibly could in the moment. Take that Maximum Viable product and roll it into a business vertical and go to market strategy – then spin the wheel again.

I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.

E. Musk

Value The Most Important Asset – Your People

Managing high-performance humans is a difficult task because most high-performance humans do not like to be managed they love to be led. Lead them by example. Value them and compensate them accordingly. Knowledge workers love achievement and goals. Lead them into the impossible, gravitate toward dizzying heights, and be there for them. Be completely transparent and communicate. Software is always broken. If anyone states differently they are not telling the truth. There is always refactoring, retargeting, more code coverage and nascent bugs. Let them realize you realize that however let them know that if they do make a mistake escalate immediately. Under no circumstances can you tolerate surprises. Give them the framework with OKRs and KPIs that let them communicate openly, efficiently and effectively and most important transparently. Great teams will turn pencils into Mount Blanc Fountain Pens. Let them do what they do best and reward them!

Process Doesn’t Make A Culture

Nor does it make great products. Many focus on some software process. Apple used and as far as i know still uses strict waterfall. As far as i am concerned, we are now trending towards a Holacracy type of environment which is a self-organizing environment. However, this only can be achieved with the proper folks that appreciate the friction of creating great products from the best ideas. The Process of evolving from an idea to a product is magic. You learn you evolve; you grow your passion for and into the product as it becomes itself the team that built the product. Your idea and passion are inherent in that shipping software (or hardware).

What do you want me to do

To do for you to see you through?

The Grateful Dead

Empower Your People

Provide your people the ability to manage themselves and have autonomy. Set them free. Trust them to make the decisions that will drive the company and projects into world-class endeavors. Take a chance with them, Let a new college graduate push some code to production. Let a new sales associate push a deal with a customer. Let your new marketing person design an area on the company site. Allow them to evolve grow and be a part of the Great Endeavor. Put them in charge and provide the framework for autonomy to make decisions and when they deliver – award them not with something ephemeral but volitional. Money and Stock work wonders. Empower. Align. Evolve.

Provide and Articulate a Common Vision

Provide a vision of the company or project. Two sentences that everyone understands. Most people who are empowered and given the frameworks to create within know what to do in these circumstances. Articulate the vision and gain common alignment across the organization or project. That is leadership that high performance teams desire. Take this alignment then map it into the OKRs and KPIs then in turn pick a process and let everyone know how this aligns to the vision. Create the environment that every line of code maps to that vision. Show commitment on this vision.

Give FeedBack

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Collaborate. Collaborate. Collaborate. Till you puke. i cannot emphasize this enough. You must be prepared everyday to manically interact with your teams and have the hard friction filled uncomfortable discussions. You want to keep the top performers let them know where they stand, how they stand and why they stand in the rankings and how they are contributing to the vision. Again attempt to create coder-metrics across your organization or project that exemplifies this performance. Interact with your most important asset your people. Over communicate. We have the ability to reach everyone at anytime, email, zoom, slack, granite tablet where once used to message. Write the message and give feedback. Better yet go take a walk with them. Have 1:1s. Listen to your people receptively and without bias and judgment about their concerns, passions, what scares them, what makes them happy, their joys, goals, and aspirations so they feel validated and understood. Solicit feedback, shut up and listen.

What all of this comes down to what i call – Amplifying_OthersTM. This is easier said than done. Personally, i believe that you need to commit even to the point of possibly finding them a better fit for a position at another company. This goes back to understanding what truly drives the only asset there is in technology the people. Always Be Listening, Always Be Networking, and Always Be Recruiting.

This brings up the next big question for your company – How do you attract the best right talent? Hmmmm… that might be another blog. Let me know your thought on these matters in the comments.

Until Then,

#IWishYouWater <- Psycho Session In Mentawis

@tctjr

Music To Blog By:

American Beauty by The Grateful Dead. Box of Rain and Ripple are amazing. Also if you haven’t heard Jane’s Addiction’s cover of Ripple check it out. i am not a Dead fan but the lyrics on some of these songs are monumental.

References (click for purchase link):

The Psychology of Computer Programming

Mythical Man Month

The Essence of Software: Why Concepts Matter for Great Design

Ordo Ab Chao – Or Embrace Uncertainty

Masonic Motto: Ordo Ab Chao
Eternal Golden Braid

Only he who undertakes dizzying ventures is authentically human. A single chain of peaks links Prometheus with Siegfried.

~ Jean Mabire

Hello all first as always i hope everyone is safe. Second, i have not been able to write as much as i would have liked, life happens. More on that in later blogs this year.

Now to the current installment. i do not write about specific work topics at all however i am making an exception here as it pertains to the title of the blog. W.R.T. (with respect to) the title this is not some FreeMason diatribe so you can take off the tinfoil hats and stick with me, please dear reader.

If you saw this news Fransisco Partners of San Francisco, California purchased IBM, Watson Health of which i am currently the Global CTO and Chief Architect. Personally, i am extremely excited about this situation as it appears others were as well considering the number of inbound texts, emails, calls that i received. i truly appreciated all of the correspondence. It is an amazing opportunity with an amazing firm that understands the health technology industry with many well-placed investments.

Why does this pertain to the blog subject line? Change causes randomization, randomization can cause chaos. All of it yields Uncertainty. It also is an indicator of Entropy. I wrote a blog some time ago on Randomness.

One of my favorite equations and possible my favorite equation is one Entropy:

This is the original one based on Bolztman’s derivation:

    \[S = k_\mathrm{B} \ln W\]

However, me being an information science type person i prefer the entropy of a channel made famous by one of my heroes Claude Shannon:

    \[E = -1/N*\sum_{i}^{N}(p_{i})log(p_{i})\]

(Note: As 𝑁→∞ this gives an entropy which is solely related to the distribution shape and does not depend on 𝑁.)

Entropy (/ˈentrəpē/) is a measure of a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system or lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder ergo our current subject of this blog.

Many people want to think or be told that it will be A-OK. Or OK. Being a word nerd I looked up the etymology of both A-OK and OK. Here is what i found:

The expression A-Okay:

Means everything is fine. A-Okay is a space-age expression. It was used in 1961 during the flight of astronaut Alan Shepard. He was the first American to be launched into space. His flight ended when his spacecraft landed in the ocean, as planned. Shepard reported: “Everything is A-Okay.”

However, some experts say the expression did not begin with the space age. One story says it was first used during the early days of the telephone to tell an operator that a message had been received.

Then there is OK (Okay):

The gesture was popularized in the United States in 1840 as a symbol to support then Presidential candidate Martin Van Buren. This was because Van Buren’s nickname, Old Kinderhook, derived from his hometown of Kinderhook, NY, had the initials O. K. i had no idea.

There are also fun ways to say okay. Some people say okey-dokey or okey-doke. Now with text, we have kk in some cases. i have even heard people say I’m doing “hunky dory”. This American-coined adjective has been around since the 1860s, from the now-obsolete hunkey, “all right,” which stems from the New York slang hunk, “in a safe position,” and the Dutch root honk or “home.” So basically you’re fine at home. (It is also a great album by David Bowie).

So even if you not OK, there are situations where we engage in some physical activity or mental endeavor where most want to know when “the end or finish line is near.” “OMG when is this going to END?!” However, one important factor that i have personally found when the distance is unknown and the end is unknown is when you truly find out who You are on this Earth. Sometimes the process is in the putting. Going way past what you thought possible is where the magic happens.

Uncertainty is the basis for which we live. Technically if you think about it we live next to an exploding star in an ever-expanding universe.

As a comparison here is a chart of Alan Chamberlin of JPL/Caltech. The subject matter is near-earth asteroids. Interestingly enough the objects were not previously known and thus there was no early warning. We knew when we knew. Take your time and let this chart sink into the old wetware.

This list does not include any of the hundreds of objects that collided with Earth, which were not discovered in advance, but were recorded by sensors designed to detect the detonation of nuclear devices. Of the objects so detected, 78 had impact energy greater than that of a 1-kiloton device (equivalent to 1000 tons of TNT), including 11 which had impact energy greater than that of a 10-kiloton device i.e. comparable to the atomic bombs used in the Second World War.

Why am i posting these statistics? Entropy until we know a universe that runs in reverse time or loops time it is ever increasing thus randomness and uncertainty writ large are always increasing.

So what does one do? Well we can only truly deal with what we can control. Anything exterior to that is superfluous in our thought patterns or should be extraneous and superfluous.

I wrote a related blog entitled “What Is It You Want?” which posited a different view. First, you need to decide what you want and if you are unable to decide what you want there is a good chance that what you don’t want is a more known entity.

Envision the worst thing that could happen. Fired from your job? Bankrupt? No. Try Grief. True loss as in the death of a loved one (including animals). Someone that will never ever return. Finality. We have all been there with someone.

In the same psychological realm True Loss can also be the other side of an “Aha!” moment. For instance, let’s say you have been working for months possibly years on something creative or an idea and suddenly in an ephemeral flash of lucidity you finally arrive at the ideation incarnate and grasp the totality of understanding. At that moment on the other side, you can no longer duplicate that feeling. It is gone. True Loss. For some that do not have family or friends, this is equivalent. Even for those that have family, friends and beloved animals, this is equivalent.

Yet we want to think in absolutes that someone somewhere will make it “OK”.

I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.

Zarathustra

Well as we say here in The South. “It’s OK until It Aint.” The only remedy is preparation but not analysis to paralysis. Train and train well.

The only other remedy is just GO and DO and move and make it happen. Only move in the direction of what YOU desire and want – it will make a huge difference.

The most intelligent humans, like the strongest, find their happiness where others find only disaster: in the labyrinth, in being hard with themselves and others, in effort, their delight is self mastery; in them asceticism becomes second nature, a necessity, an instinct.  They regard a difficult task as a privilege; it is to them a recreation to play with burdens that would crush all others.

R.A.C.

Humans are designed via the evolutionary process to work under stress. i believe we operate better when we are under the gun, under a deadline, reaching for goals, or striving for whatever it is that drives Us. Some prefer the sameness that comes with a 9-5 job. For me personally, i like to obtain order out of chaos.

So whenever you find yourself worried about what May-Be-Happening think instead of what IS-To-Be and make it happen. Alan Watts famously discussed the issue with no surprises in life is you know how everything turns out and if that is the case then that is living in the past.

Until Then,

#iwishyouwater <- Mavericks in Half Moon Bay doing its thing 3.22

@tcjr

Muzak To Blog By: Jeff Buckley’s Album “You and I”. Huge that this was all demos. Astounding talent left us to soon. He took a night swim in the Mississippi River and hit by a paddwheel boat. Random? Entropy? Safe? His autopsy showed no drugs or alchohol in a body.

What Is It You WANT?

Hey, it’s not your and its not mine

Hey, I’m just here to share your time

Don’t you pay those spinning wheels no mind

~ Tedeschi Trucks Band

First, i trust this finds everyone safe.

Second, as we head into the holiday season i was thoughting about an interview question i always ask people:

“What is it you want?”

i usually get either contorted faces or a blank stare.  No i didn’t ask you to write a Markov chain algorithm to predict the next meme cryptocurrency or describe the differences between NATS or Kafka distributed processing systems or where do you want to be in five years type of questions.

Let me repeat:

“What is it you want?”

i usually have to prompt folks.  

“Ok, like you want a G5 Gulfstream or an island?  How about a puppy?”

“You want to be a writer?  A painter, a musician, or a teacher?”

Invariably when they answer they want to be doing “something else” as the above profession if money were no object, i always respond, “Then why are you interviewing here? Go do what you just said you wanted to do in the first place.”

Unless you think you want a puppy or a plane. However, there is an unending number of ways to be compensated for your passion. You can have your proverbial cake and eat it as well.

This usually gets people pretty animated.  

Then i ask:

‘Which would you rather be?  Famous or Rich?”

Blanks stares.

You see most people truly don’t think about what they deeply truly desire and want in life.

So i am going to be taking the rest of the year in my non-copious free time to thought about and reflect on what i truly want and desire.

The reason i am using thoughting is that most if not all have thought about this very issue with no answers.  

It’s very interesting at least from what i can tell in western civilization we are not taught to think about what we want when most if not all of what drives us is obtaining something.

Then i have a third question:

“Which is worse a lie or greed?”

None of these questions are as difficult as the first.  However the last one i have people who i have hired in the past who have discussed this question with me for decades.

Most people are petrified of success.  What do you do when you get everything you want?

Charlie don’t forget what happeneed to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted… He lived Happily Ever After!

~ Willy Wonka

You have to reassess what you want – yet again.

Maybe you don’t really know what you want? It appears most folks just want predictability and control. Well if you could have that isn’t that living in the past because you already know what is going to happen? Just a thought as it were. Maybe you don’t like surprises. Then again the wonder of life is the unexpected.

Or maybe they want power. Power over what exactly?

So go give it some thought.  In the meantime here is a great piece by Alan Watts. He even mentions a Klien Bottle which amazingly someone sent me one which i greatly cherish.

As always would love to see some comments on the posts.

Until then,

#iwishyouwater

tctjr

Muzak To Blog By:  Tedeschi Trucks Band 

Book Review: How To Read A Book

Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.

Mortimer Adler
My copy of HTRAB

First, i hope everyone is safe.

Second, i decided to write this blog based on two unrelated events: (1) as of late during the pandemic i have been reading commentary “online” of varying degrees such as “I want to read more books” and “Can you recommend some books to read?”  (2) i was setting out to write a technical blog on a core machine learning subject and whilst putting together the bibliography i realized i wasn’t truly performing or rather obtaining “level four reading” as outlined in the book i am going to review and by definition recommend.

i also am an admitted bibliomaniac and even more so nowadays an autodidact. i contracted the reading bug from my mother at an early age. i read Webster’s Dictionary twice in grade school. Still to this day she sends me the first edition or rare books to read. Thanks, Mom.

This is the stack of references.

As part of this book review and hopefully subsequent blog on a technical subject within machine learning, i decided to read the book a third time.  Which for this blog and review is an important facet.

As i was thinking about the best way to approach this particular book review i was pondering reading and books in general.  Which i came yet again to the conclusion:

There is much magic and wonder in this world.  Reading to me is a magical process.

It’s a miracle a child learns to speak a language!  It’s a miracle we can read! It’s even more of a miracle given the two previous observations that Humans are such astounding language generators (and authors)! 

One section of many in my library office

What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.

Carl Sagan

i consider a  book a “dual-sided marketplace” for magical access.

“How To Read a Book” by Mortimer J. Adler was originally published in 1940 with a re-issue in 1972.  The 1970s were considered the decade of reading in the United States.

In the 70’s the average reading level in the United States for most content speeches, magazines, books, etc was the 6th grade.  It is now surmised the average reading level and reading content is hovering around the 4-5th grade.

This brings us to the matter at hand the book review. 

The book’s author ​​Mortimer Jerome Adler (December 28, 1902 – June 28, 2001) was an American philosopher, educator, encyclopedist, and popular author. As a philosopher, he worked within the Aristotelian and Thomistic traditions. He taught at Columbia University and the University of Chicago, served as chairman of the Encyclopædia Britannica Board of Editors, and founded his own Institute for Philosophical Research.  

There is no friend as loyal as a book.

Ernest Hemmingway

The book states upfront that there is great inequality in reading with respect to understanding and that understanding must be overcome.  Reading for understanding is not just gaining information.  There is being informed and there is being enlightened when reading a book.  How To Read A Book (HTRAB) is precisely concerned with the latter.  If you remember what you read you have been informed. If you are enlightened from a book you know what the author is attempting to say, know what he means by what they say, and can concisely explain the subject matter. Of course, being informed is a prerequisite to being enlightened.

Professor Adler mentions in the book via Montaingne where he speaks of “An abecedarian ignorance that precedes knowledge, and a doctoral ignorance that comes after it.” 

Let’s first deal with Abcederian:  It essentially means dealing with alphabetized, elementary, rudimentary, or novel levels.  Ergo the novice ignorance arrives first.  The second are those who misread books.  Reading a ton of books is not reading well.  Professor Adler calls them literate ignoramus.  The said another way there are those that have read too widely and not well. 

Widely read and well-read are two vastly different endeavors.

The Greek word for learning and folly is sophomore. From google translate sophomore in Greek: δευτεροετής φοιτητής

This book pulls no punches when it comes to helping you help yourself.

HTRAB is in fact just that how to gain the most out of a book.  The book explains the four levels of reading:

  1. Elementary reading, rudimentary reading, basic reading or initial reading.  This is where one goes from complete illiteracy to at the very least being able to read the words on the page.  
  2. Inspectional reading.  This is where one attempts to get the most out of a book in a prescribed about of time.  What is this book about?
  3. Analytical reading places heavy demands on the reader.  It is also called thorough reading, complete reading or good reading.  This is the best reading you can do.  The analytical reader must ask themselves several questions of inquiry, organizational and objective natures.  The reader grasps the book.  The book at this point becomes her own.  This level of reading is precisely for the sake of understanding.  Also you cannot bring your mind from understanding less to understanding more unless you have skill in the area of analytical reading. 
  4. Syntopical Reading is the highest level.  It is the most complex and systematic reading and it makes the most demands on the reader.  Another name for this level is comparative reading.  When reading syntopically the reader accesses and reads many books placing them in relation to one another where the reader is able to construct and an analysis of knowledge that previously did not exist.  Knowledge creation and synthesis is the key here.

This is what i realized i wasn’t doing with respect to the machine learning blog.  Yes, i ranked and compared the references against one another but did i truly synthesize a net new knowledge with respect to my reading?  

Tools of The Art of Reading

The HTRAB goes on to dissect the processes of each of these four steps and how to obtain them and then move on to the next level.  This reminds me of a knowledge dojo a kind of belt test for readership.

The book also goes on to discuss how to not have any predetermined biases about what the book is or is not.  This is very important i have fallen prey to such behaviors and cannot emphasize enough you must proceed into the book breach with a clear mind

Further, the author took their valuable time to write the book and you took the cash and time to obtain the book. 

Give the respect the book deserves.

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.

Francis Bacon

The book goes in-depth about how we move from one level of reading to eventually synoptical reading and the basis for this is reading over and over whilst at every read the book is anew and alive with fresh edible if you will information.

To read and to ruminate is derived from the cow.  From Wikipedia we have:

“Ruminants are large hoofed herbivorous grazing or browsing mammals that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, principally through microbial actions.”

So to chew the cud or re-chew if you will over and over – ruminating upon the subject matter. The book states in most cases that it takes three reads to obtain synoptical reading levels.  Thus my comment previously about reading this a third time.  Amazingly it clicked.

The folks who need self-help books don’t read them and those that don’t need them do read them.

A.S.L.

The book further explains how to read everything from mathematics to theology.  With very precise steps.  

i recommend this book over and over to folks and i usually get online comments like “so meta’ or “LOL”.  In-person i get raise eyebrows or laughter.

This is not a laughing matter oh dear reader.

The two following lectures deal with HRTAB from the son of someone who worked directly with Professor Adler. His name is Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. Professor Yusuf is an American neo-traditionalist Islamic scholar and co-founder of Zaytuna College. He is a proponent of classical learning in Islam and has promoted Islamic sciences and classical teaching methodologies throughout the world. He is a huge proponent of HRTAB and recommends it in many of his lectures and uses it as a basis for his teachings in many forms. In no shape or form am I endorsing any religious or political stance with posting these videos. i am only posting for the information-rich and amazing lectures alone. He covers several areas of academics as well as several areas of religion and even pop-fad behaviors with respect to reading.

Here are both parts of the lecture:

Get the book to learn how to arrive at chewing and digesting your beloved books to the level of syntopical nirvana.  Your mind and others’ minds will thank you for it. Here is a link on Amazon:

Until then,

#iwishyou water.

Be safe.

@tctjr

Muzak To Blog by:  Cheap Trick Albums.  I had forgotten how good they were.  

Review: Zappa (The Official Documentary)

Art is making something out of nothing, and selling it.

Frank zappa
Frank Zappa

First i hope everyone is safe.

Second i’ll am writing about something off my usual beaten path and that is a movie review.  Yes once in a while i watch ye  ole “boob tube” as they used to call it back in the day.

This movie is a special movie to me as it is about the life of Frank Zappa the rock and roll guitar player, the composer, the artist, the movie maker, the recoding engineer, the American representative to Czechoslovakia, (or Czecho-Slovakia)  and most importantly a man who fervently fought for free speech.  Mainly at least for me it is a testament to someone who was constantly creating and recording that creation as well as documenting and saving those creations. While i’ve been into Zappa since a teenager i really started trying to understand the magnitude whilst in graduate school at the University of Miami where i was lucky enough to engineer and work with a group called the Zappa Ensemble. The musicianship and complexity blew my mind and it was hilarious all at the same time! It finally clicked!

Kerry Mcnabb and Frank Zappa getting physical in the mixing process (photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures)

Alex Winter was the main creative force behind Zappa with Frank Zappa’s oldest son Ahment Zappa producing. 

Zappa Trailer:

One of my greatest enjoyments is being part of making or being in deep active listening of this thing human’s call music and Frank Zappa to me is one of the greatest composers of the 20th century of which this movie showcases.  His ability to meld performance, musician ship and lyrical satire i believe will never be seen again in my time or possibly anyones time.

lf you’re going to deal with reality, you’re going to have to make one big discovery: Reality is something that belongs to you as an individual. If you wanna grow up, which most people don’t, the thing to do is take responsibility for your own reality and deal with it on your own terms. Don’t expect that because you pay some money to somebody else or take a pledge or join a club or run down the street or wear a special bunch of clothes or play a certain sport or even drink Perrier water, it’s going to take care of everything for you.

Frank Zappa

The movie deeply focuses on the extreme drive Zappa had to create and duplicate the sound that he heard in his head transferring it from paper to little dots of which we call musical notation then taking it to the studio and attempting to reproduce it as accurately as possible to the sound being heard inside his head.  The recording process to me is truly astounding.  It’s what i term “a perceptual to parameterization to physical transform”.  He was self taught in all aspects of his creative pursuits of which he was what i consider to be an ultimate autodidactic.

This movie starts off with Frank’s last guitar performance then cuts to him  in his Vault of recordings and VHS tapes identifying original master recordings.  I was awestruck.  

You’ve got to be digging it while it’s happening ’cause it just might be a one shot deal.

Frank Zappa

Through my research on the film i found out that alex Winter was Bill in the “Bill and Ted” films although i have no idea what those are as i haven’t seen them only heard about them.  Evidently he has been making documentaries for a decade. He approached Zappa’s widow Gail (the film is dedicated to her as she died in 2015)  for permission on the project.  The result is a a cacophony of a life lived loud with constant feeding the disease of composition and creativity.

Winter was given complete access to the Zappa family archives which as i mention above was called The Vault.  There are many shots of The Vault which is a treasure trove of both audio and video recordings all shapes sizes and formats.  

There is also a ton of footage of his family and how he grew up.  Initially his family completely opposed him getting involved with music and Zappa also notes that they were extremely poor. They also note Zappa was interested chemistry at an early age and tried to blow his school up.

The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.

Frank Zappa

There is a great section of Frank “On The Hill”  testifying before the senate during the PMRC hearings on album and music lyrics which he definitely as i do consider censorship.  The movie then details his pursuit of anything that looks or smells like censorship.  If it weren’t for him doing this at every turn i believe things would be very different even a much a it is now. Then i wonder, today in this environment, he probably couldn’t publish a lot of the music he wrote.

The salient point i was reminded of in this movie is  don’t waste your time go make a dent in this thing we call life and create at all costs even if no one – not one person – views, listens or uses the creation at least one person will and that will be the person of You.  

Never compromise and always choose quality over quantity and remember give “them” a good laugh.  They might not get the joke but at least you can laugh.  

Why do you necessarily have to be wrong just because a few million people think you are?

Frank Zappa

To give you an idea of the sheer output and dedication to the art while alive Zappa released 62 albums. Since 1994, the Zappa Family Trust has released 54 posthumous albums as of July 2020, making a total of 116 albums/album sets.

This dear reader should remind you of one aspect of your life:  Find your passion and dwell on it deeply, daily, hourly, minute by precious minute.  

Personally i hope The Vault is all mined, uncovered, reformatted and converted so that the world knows about the volume and creativity.

If you think that Zappa was all about raunchy lyrics, complex poly rhythms and symphonies most ensembles and orchestras couldn’t play i urge you to listen to this song that ends the documentary.  The documentary ends with amazing shots of his house  and uses a live version that is recorded in 1978 as the back drop. Below are several versions including the studio version from Joe’s Garage album because the comments by the “Central Scrutinizer” are hilarious and are juxtaposed against what i consider to be one of the most amazing pieces of guitar work ever recorded.  The sadness and lamenting of the piece is deafening.  However at the same time as someone who i have met in the land of suspicious coincidence said it is intoxicating.  

For completeness here is the live version in 1978

And here is a version in 2013 by his son dweezil zappa crying while he is playing.  

There is a four “disc” set on itunes of the documentary soundtrack here: Zappa Soundtrack.

Frank Zappa died on December 4, 1993 of prostate cancer.  He is survived by his four progeny: Moon, Dweezil, Ahment and Diva Zappa.  

Until then,

#iwishyouwater

@tctjr

Muzak To Blog By:  Zappa Soundtrack

Freedom From The Flesh

The human body resonates at the same frequency as Mother Earth. So instead of only focusing on trying to save the earth, which operates in congruence to our vibrations, I think it is more important to be one with each other. If you really want to remedy the earth, we have to mend mankind. And to unite mankind, we heal the Earth. That is the only way. Mother Earth will exist with or without us. Yet if she is sick, it is because mankind is sick and separated. And if our vibrations are bad, she reacts to it, as do all living creatures.

Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

Image from: The Outer Limits (1963) S 2 E 15 “The Brain of Colonel Barham”

i have been considering writing a series of blogs on the coming age of Cybernetics. For those unaware Cybernetics was a term coined by one of my heroes Dr. Norbert Weiner. Dr. Weiner was a professor of mathematics at MIT who early on became interested in stochastic and noise processes and has an entire area dedicated to him in the areas of Weiner Estimation Theory. However, he also is credited as being one of the first to theorize that all intelligent behavior was the result of feedback mechanisms, that could possibly be simulated by machines thereby coining the phrase “Cybernetics”. He wrote two seminal books in this area: (1) “Cybernetics” (2) “The Human Use of Humans”. This brings us to the present issue at hand.

The catalyst for the blog came from a tweet:

More concerning Ted is how long before people start paying for upgrades. What effects will this have when you have achieved functional immortality?

@mitchparkercisco

This was in response to me RT’ing a tweet from @alisonBLowndes concerning the International Manifesto of the “2045” Strategic Social Initiative. An excerpt from said manifesto:

We believe that before 2045 an artificial body will be created that will not only surpass the existing body in terms of functionality but will achieve perfection of form and be no less attractive than the human body. 

2045 Manifesto

Now for more context. I am a proponent of using technology to allow for increased human performance as i am an early adopter if you will of the usage of titanium to repair the skeletal system. i have staples, pins, plates and complete joints of titanium from pushing “Ye Ole MeatBag” into areas where it did not fair so well.

There are some objectives of the movement of specific interest is Number Two:

To create an international research center for cybernetic immortality to advance practical implementations of the main technical project – the creation of the artificial body and the preparation for subsequent transfer of individual human consciousness to such a body.

2045 Manifesto

This is closely related to Transhumanism which is more of a philosophy than an execution. The way i frame it is Transhumanism sets the philosophical framework for cybernetics. The contemporary meaning of the term “transhumanism” was foreshadowed by one of the first professors of futurology, a man who changed his name to FM-2030. In the 1960s, he taught “new concepts of the human” at The New School when he began to identify people who adopt technologies, lifestyles and worldviews “transitional” to post-humanity as “transhuman“.

Coming from a software standpoint we could map the areas into pipelines and deploy as needed either material biological or conscious. We could map these areas into a CI/CD deployment pipeline. .

For a direct reference, i work with an amazing practicing nocturnist who is also a great coder as well as a medical 3D Printing expert! He prints body parts! It is pretty amazing to think that something your holding that was printed that morning is going to enable someone to use their respective limbs or walk again. So humbling. By the way, the good doctor is also a really nice person. Just truly a great human. Health practitioners are truly some of humanity’s rockstars.

He printed me a fully articulated purple octopus that doesn’t go in the body:

Building upon this edict and for those who have read William Gibson’s “Neuromancer,” or Rudy Ruckers The Ware Tetralogy: Software, Wetware, Realware, Freeware “it calls into question the very essence of the use for the human body? Of the flesh is the only aspect we truly do know and associate with this thing called life. We continually talk about the ‘Big C Word” – Consciousness. However, we only know the body. We have no idea of the mind. Carnality seems to rule the roost for the Humans.

In fact most of the acts that we perform on a daily basis trend toward physical pleasure. However what if we can upgrade the pleasure centers? What if the whole concept of dysphoria goes away and you can order you a net-new body? What *if* this allows us as the above ponders to upgrade ad nauseam and live forever? Would you? Would it get tiresome and boring?

i can unequivocally tell you i would if given the chance. Why? Because if there *is* intelligent life somewhere then they have a much longer evolutionary scale that we mere humans on earth do not and they have figured out some stuff let’s say that can possibly change the way we view life in longer time scales ( or time loops or even can we say Infinite_Human_Do_Loops? ).

i believe we are coming to an age where instead of the “50 is the new 30” we can choose our age – lets say at 100 i choose new core and legs and still run a 40-yard dash in under 5 seconds? i am all for it.

What if you choose a body that is younger than your progeny?

What if you choose a body that isnt a representation of a human as we know it?

All with immortality?

i would love to hear folks thoughts on the matter in the comments below.

For reference again here is the link -> 2045 Manifesto.

Until then,

Be Safe.

#iwishyouwater

@tctjr

Muzak To Blog By: Maddalena by Ennio Morricone

Vaspar 21 Minute Workout (Review)

The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Due to my hobbies and extracurricular activities i sometimes get in situations that are disadvantageous to my physical well being. Let’s just say i have my number of sprains, broken bones, and metal parts in my body. Which in addition to being a fan of Dr. Norbert Wiener’s work i also believe in Cybernetics. That said over the past number of years i have had recurring issues with neck, back, shoulder, and hip chronic pain due to what i would term having too much fun whether it be martial arts, lifting weights, surfing, snowboarding etc. Through Lisa Maki (click her name for her story on her trials of pain) i was introduced to Marc Dubick, MD who is a Pain Medicine Specialist in Charleston, SC, and has over 46 years of experience in the medical field. He graduated from the University Of Kentucky medical school in 1975. He also happens to be a really amazing human being. Here is a picture of Dr. Marc Dubick and Your Author:

Me and The Doc

I started just as Lisa Maki did with injections of recombinant human growth hormone and testosterone to the painful and dysfunctional areas in my body that would otherwise have had to be operated on or replaced. Over the years while these injections are extremely painful they eventually help and heal the affected areas. i prefer the short term pain over the complexities of evasive surgery.

Dr Dubick has since retired and handed over the reins to a great doctor (and human) Dr. Todd Joye who is a partner at interveneMD. He is continuing the rGH therapy and it is proving as expected just as effective. This brings us to our current reason behind this blog. He has employed a rehabilitation – human performance machine called Vaspar.

Brochure of VASPAR

As it turns out professional sports teams and the military have started utilizing this machine with astounding results. To understand the physical benefits Vasper provides, they conducted research backed by supporting literature. In order to study its impact effectively, Vasper conducted a safety study, which verifies Vasper is safe and easy to use for most. Dr. Joye told me when he took delivery he had been working with the creator of Vaspar and Vasper users talk about increases in energy and strength. In a small study, they observed significant increases in testosterone as a result of Vasper use. Though there may be other factors at play, it is likely this testosterone boost explains the improvements in performance after Vasper use, which was discovered in a different study. Combined with its low impact physically and physiologically, the anabolic hormone increase with Vasper use is an unbeatable combination for anyone who wants to increase their physical performance. It is well known that testosterone is a key hormone that is involved in regulating muscle growth, bone density, fat metabolism, and mood in both men and women. The Vaspar folks explored this hormone with five professional baseball players in 8 Vasper sessions over 2 weeks. They data showed an 80% increase in free testosterone levels, with an average increase of 132% across all participants.

Purported levels of free testosterone level increase:

Given how much i pursue all things in human performance for mental and physical edges i was skeptical. However i am open to trying (almost) anything once if it shows the benefits of performant edge. Thus i went for my first 21 minute session.

Your author doing his best duck face:

In preparation, you get suited up in cuffs for your thighs, biceps, and neck. You train barefooted as the pedals are also supercooled. The thing that attracted me to the Vaspar workout was that it is low impact. The principles behind Vaspar are three areas: compression, cooling, and interval training.

Compression and cooling create the effect of high intensity (anaerobic) exercise without the major time soak or muscle damage. Compression also allows lactic acid to accumulate to your muscles which drives signals to your brain requesting higher amounts of human growth hormone and testosterone to accelerate repair and recovery. The cooling also increases oxygen to the muscles.

For interval training, it is obvious to anyone who has trained that is the way to go as far as i am concerned to generate high amounts of caloric burn in a shorter amount of time with higher amounts of lactic acid buildup which create a feedback effect.

The system can be customized for limb reach and throw as well as numerous analytics such as pulse oxygen, pulse rate, wattage burned etc.

So what happened?

The staff at interveneMD set the system to slightly higher than intermediate. Well dear reader it blew my mind in the first and second sessions. In 21 minutes it felt like i had been deadlifting substantial weight with sprints in between sets for at least an hour. Which i have done many times before with an extremely sore body afterward. The workout was very intense and exhilarating.

To my amazement, i had zero pain and in fact, greatly reduced pain probably to the endorphins released as well as the amount of HGH and testosterone.

My favorite part is after the interval workout you lie on a super cooling mat for 6 minutes. Nighty night bunny rabbit!

For anyone who is into human performance or needs rehabilitation of any means i highly recommended finding a facility that has one of these for use. As a note health insurance does pay some portion!

In full transparency i have no affiliation with interveneMD or the makers of VASPAR. This blog was written in order to amplify others and the fact i was totally amazed after so many years of searching for novel ways to workout.

Once again here are the links

interveneMD

Vaspar

Here is a great reference to Dr Marc Dubicks paper on rGH:

“Use of localized human growth hormone and testosterone injections in addition to manual therapy and exercise for lower back pain: a case series with 12-month follow-up.”

Hope everyone is safe!

Until then,

#iwishyouwater

tctjr

Muzak To Blog To: Johnny Smith – Kaleidoscope

FLAW: Not Thinking Big Enough or What Is Success?

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.

Samuel Clements

This morning whilst trying to motivate myself at 5AM EST to work out and lift weights i had a thought:

We almost never think big enough in our endeavors and when we think we are thinking big enough we hear the word: “No” in some form or fashion.

After finally willing myself to workout I walked into my living room where i have some music stuff and this poster is one of my most prized possessions.  It was given to me when i was leaving apple.  

It was one of only three made during the famous “Here’s To The Crazy Ones” Campaign from Apple:

Here’s To The Crazy Ones Video

You might know the narrator of the video.  He was a college drop out and was fired from the company he founded.  Many miss him as I do miss him.  Why is this important?

Let us whittle this back some more. i was thinking when we picture ourselves doing something or in the process of doing something do we stop short of our truest desires?  Better yet if we have a passion why don’t we go after it will a full heart?  Or while we are executing on the said passion we stop short?  

Maybe it starts young.  Lets look at something that seems very innocuous at first.  The simple word NO.

It hath been said words have meanings so let’s search – shall we?

Taken from Online Etymology Dictionary | Origin, history and meaning of English word

NO (adv)

“not in any degree, not at all,” Middle English, from Old English na, from ne “not, no” + a “ever.” The first element is from Proto-Germanic *ne (source also of Old Norse, Old Frisian, Old High German ne, Gothic ni “not”), from PIE root *ne- “not.” Second element is from Proto-Germanic *aiwi-, extended form of PIE root *aiw- “vital force, life, long life, eternity.” Ultimately identical to nay, and the differences of use are accidental.”

Years ago a UCLA survey reported that the average one-year-old child hears the word, No! more than 400 times a day! You might think this is an exaggeration. However when we say  No! we usually say, No, no, no!. That’s three times in three seconds! If that child (or adult) is particularly active then i could see this being a valid statistic.  By the way for any parents out there don’t feel bad we have all done it.

(SIDE NOTE: i do realize there are lies, damn lies and statistics – yet i digress).

What do you do when you are constantly being told what not to do? Or being told NO!  You can’t do that! We then “grow up”.

The passion and wonder of childhood fade.  Yet it doesnt have to does it?

Now more than ever there are ways to monetize that passion unless your independently wealthy then you need not worry at all about such things.

One of my interview questions:

What is your true passion?

i truly want to know. What do YOU WANT?  Whatever it is or whatever the person says i usually tell them to go do IT instead of what they think they should be doing. Caveat Emptor: There are always consequences.

I’ve heard all kinds of answers and more to this question: grow mushrooms, paint, be a comedian, peace corps, build the next (insert Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc herewith), fireman, and yes even a porn star.  

Now why i am referencing the word ‘NO’ with respect to not thinking grandiose, audacious, stupendously – enough?

Because we are told you can’t by those that do not understand YOUR passion or those that cannot do what you do and to be more even more succinct they are probably scared at some level.  

Now did i ever say it was easy?  No in fact when it appears to be completely dire straits (not to be confused with the band) it is usually the most opportunistic situation. Storms never last they say and you will always most certainly feel like you are in some form of a storm. “Ordo Ab Chaos” as the old saying goes.

You will encounter criticism, countless setbacks, and ostracization in some cases, depending on how big your passions and executions are in certain areas.  Do not let these deter you.  The loudest negative voice you will have to deal with is the small voice inside your head at night – Nighty Night, but ya can’t do that….

Also to that point remember your passion is just a thought until you execute on it. Ideas are cheap.  Everyone has ideas every day that they never act on because of homeostasis or they create a reason not to act upon thier passion.

One of my all-time favorite guitarist is Steve Vai. He was 17 years old when he played with Frank Zappa.

In this video he talks about what it takes to be successful.

The only thing that is holding you back is the way YOU are thinking.  Again – What is it you truly want?

Whatever it is imagine yourself being there.

All of a sudden the reasons you can’t do it flood in and the word NO is echoed.

In the worst of times go to the larger big audacious outrageous picture of you executing your passion.

Hold it and make it precious.

Then move Ever Forward toward the next step closer to that vision as you become a NO Collector from all of the naysayers that say it cannot be done. For every NO you collect you are one step closer to your success.

Muzak To Blog To: Rome “Flight In Formation”.

Until then,

Be safe.

#iwishyouwater

@tctjr