Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Carpenter's Son

I teach him all I can,
To walk and run.
To work and be a man.

I help him to stand,
To find his voice.
To learn and understand.

For in my heart, he is my son
Though I am not his father.
And as he grows, I know that he
Will do works of the other.

But for now, he is my boy
And I will love his mother.
For there is a special love
A man can give,
To the child of another.

I teach him all I know
Give him a home.
A place to live and grow.

I give him my name.
To face the world
Standing tall with no shame.

For in my heart, he is my son
Though I am not his father.
And as he grows, I know that he
Will do works of the other.

But for now, he is my boy
And I will love his mother.
For there is a special love
A man can give,
To the child of another.

I teach him what is right,
To choose and love,
To always walk in light.

I give him my love.
For when he prays
And speaks to God above.

For in my heart, he is my son
Though I am not his father.
And as he grows, I know that he
Will do works of the other.

But for now, he is my boy
And I will love his mother.
For there is a special love
A man can give,
To the child of another.

For there is a special love
A man can give,
To the child of another.

-by roy hayward

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Poem of the Missing

There’s an ache inside the heart
from an absent, missing part.
Missing all the moments
I can’t be with you.

There’s a sentiment of loss
like a sad, tearful moss.
A cloak that grows and hides 
memories of you.

There’s a sigh inside the chest
for a hope, a wish that’s best.
The faith that some day soon
I'll again see you.

There's a victory of love
and faith in those above.
The knowledge of the plan
brings me back to you.

-by roy hayward. 

 For all who've had a loved one go on ahead.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Right to Vote, or Not

In the past few days, and many times today, I have seen the plea for everyone to exercise their right to vote. And while this may be done with the best of intentions, I'm not sure that these evangelists understand what they are asking.

"You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it does. "

Rights are actions that we have the moral and legal ability to perform an action. In the USA, today, citizens have the right to vote. They also have the right to freedom of speech. Part of the right of freedom of speech is the right to remain silent. And part of the right to vote, is the right to abstain from voting.

And in honesty not everyone has this right.

I was speaking with a friend today that is from Brazil. And she was telling me that they have mandatory voting there. If you don't vote, you have to pay a fine, you can't get a passport, or a government job. And getting other jobs is more difficult because you don't show up in the system that verifies eligibility to work.  And you don't get welfare benefits.

I would be horrified if we implemented this here. Its no longer a right if you are compelled to do it. (I don't think anyone feels like we have the right to pay taxes.) Having rights is important. Wars have been fought over them. Armies stand to protect and defend them. And laws are enacted to safeguard them.

They shouldn't be taken lightly. 

But the choice to not vote, and not speak, and not run for office, and not own a gun, and not do so many things is part of the right to do them.

So I voted today. I like to vote. I like to read up on candidates, proposals, amendments, and other related things that show up on ballots.  But that is me. If you don't want to wait in line. Or if you have no idea what we are voting about. Or if you know and don't really care.  That's okay.

No one is going to force you to vote.

You see you can't but help to exercise your right to vote today. You are doing it no matter if you vote or not.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Perpetual Paperclips

The other day we had a discussion with some friends about robots, and automation. The trope was addressed about the perpetual paperclip making robot. Basically, you have this problem solving robot that provides you with all of your needs. And one day you tell it. "Hey, you, make as many paperclips as you can."

And then you die without ever stopping this task loop. So after a while, the robot runs out of wire. But since its a problem solving robot, it gets more wire. Eventually there is no more wire. But the robot starts looking at ways to solve the problem and start converting everything it encounters into a way to get more wire for making paperclips, and then makes paperclips out of them.

Eventually, the entire earth is consumed and converted into paperclips and the means to make more. But the Robot isn't finished. It sends out probes to the asteroids and planets in the solar system and gets more materials. And then the universe.

Anyway, there was one guy that argued that you can't teach a computer to teach itself, what it determines it needs to learn to complete the task. But it really just boils down diagramming out how you discover the need for new knowledge and then get it to complete tasks.

Here is a diagram:

The problem comes in where the robot needs to grow beyond the previously developed methods of material acquisition. How does the robot go from, "Get wire." with a response of "You cannot get wire." and move to "Make wire." and then "Mine ore to make wire."

And that is where google helps the robot. The robot gets a "You cannot get wire" response from the store, and then googles, "Where does wire come from." (this is the critical step) Google will respond with pages of information about how wire is made and what it is made of.

If the programming can interpret the data to make a new task of "Make wire." that then spawns tasks of "get metal" and then "Mine metal" and so forth. Then the robot can attempt to convert the universe into paperclips.

Since we have created a never ending task, the robot never reaches, a NO to the "Do we have a task?" question. There is always a task. And if it can't do them. It has google to help it get the information to do the task. And no human to interrupt the process and say, "Stop making paperclips."

This scenario is unlikely in many ways. Mostly in that someone will eventually notice the over abundance of paperclips and cancels the process.  But if we can develop the knowledge interpretation software enough, issuing a make as many as you can command will be like turning the faucet on. Walking off and leaving it will make a mess of things.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hobbit Trilogy - And Social Dogpiling

For me it started on a podcast.  One of the talking voices decided that he wanted to take issues with the breaking of the Hobbit into a three movie trilogy. Too much screen time. Too long between films. Too much original material not in the book as he remembered it. 

Too much this. Too little that.

It made me raise an eyebrow and reconsider how much I had enjoyed going to the movie. And then I noticed that everyone was now doing it. I have seen blog after blog about the movies. And they all take the backseat driver approach to criticize these movies. 

In fairness. Most of the critics also proclaim their intent to see the movies etc, etc. But really? Is this how fans behave these days? Its one thing to be critical of a movie or book that you really feel has fatal flaws.  But it seems that all of these want-to-be critics feel like the Hobbit or the latest Avenger movie, or other wildly successful movies are fair to throw stones at because they know that criticism won't really effect them. 

They seem to think that if the movie is already destined to be a money maker, that we should all feel free to take potshots at it.

And it makes me sigh a little and wish that people wouldn't act like it was cool to be negative. Sophisticated to be critical. And fun to push yourself up by pushing someone else down.

For the record, I have enjoyed all of the Hobbit and LOTR movies. I'll see the next one in the theater. And I plan on enjoying it as well. I expect to come out of the movie and say, "Wow, that was great!  I loved the part where...." Just like I did to the last two. 

For some reason I don't seem to see this in others as often as I wish I did.  So I'm saying it now. Just for me. 

I really like the Hobbit movies. I wish there were going to be more of them. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I replaced radio with podcasts

So, I may be late to the party. But I don't feel that way. I actually listened to many earlier Podcasts and precursors to Podcasts. Some were called webcasts. Or netcasts. (There was actually something called a webcast before it was an audio/video stream or file, but maybe we will talk about that some other time.) (No I am not talking about spiderman!) (Fine, it was a pre-cached internet back when the 14.4 modems were fast. It pulled content while you were reading that fit your preferences and history so that when you were done reading, the next likely content you wanted was already downloaded.)

So, anyway, Podcasts have replaced my radio listening almost entirely. This happened fairly slowly, but now is almost complete. What has happened is that I was able to find a reliable app, that wasn't iTunes to listen to them with.  I use the iPP Podcast Player that works on my Android devices.

This also lets me create my own mix of content. I am not at the mercy of a broadcast schedule or selection. And its can be free. (there are paid podcasts, but I don't listen to any of those.)

Here is my current list:
  1. Freakonomics Radio
  2. Debug (this is a computer geek discussion of technology)
  3. Dead Robots Society (This one is about writing and publishing fiction.)
  4. Star Talk Radio (Neil Degrass Tyson from the Haden Planetarium answers questions.)
  5. Federalist Society Event Audio (Conservative Political presentation and panel discussion recordings.)
  6. I added Hello Internet, but the episodes seem to be slow in coming.
  7. I reacently added NPR: Planet Money. 
  8. Finally, today I added Grammar Girl.
I expect that as time goes on, I will add and remove some. modifying my selection.

Now, just like my rants about the superiority of on demand programming. I have some observations here.
  1. Many of the podcasts that I listen to have sponsors. So the Podcaster pitches a service or product for money. Just like an add on the radio. 
  2. Unlike radio, (talk radio), podcasts can be listened to later. That's one of the things that gets me interested. I can binge on handful of programs before I add it to the subscribe list. And then I can listen to the latest or older programs based on my preferences. 
  3. Like radio, there isn't a big barrier to putting out current and timely content. If you are set up to produce radio, it should be simple to edit and publish that content as a podcast. So even "breaking news" could be podcast if you wanted to. There would just be a publish and download delay. So while it may not work quite as well live reporting, its a tradeoff that for the content I prefer works.
  4. Since its not just live, I feel like there is more of an effort for accuracy on the part of the Podcaster that the Broadcaster on the radio. Sure they can be the same guy, but there is less of a push to fill air time. You can edit the dead air out. But on live, even with a small delay, there is a limit to the opportunities to check a reference or restate something to make it more accurate.
  5. Finally, the ability to pre-download a selection of content for travel, or whatever purpose, makes Podcasts fill a whole new niche of consumption for me.
So this is how Podcasts have replaced radio for me. They weren't quite ready in the past. But today, they are mature enough to step up. If you've tried them in the past, give them another shot.

And if you listen to podcasts that you like, or you make a podcast that you want to suggest, drop me a link in the comments and I'll take a listen and reply with what I think. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

What if we are wrong?

I just listened to an intriguing podcast from Freakonomics Radio. It was on making predictions. And they talked about a bunch of things. They had, as one of their guests, Philip Tetlock who is an expert and researcher of people that make predictions.  And he basically said that people who are dogmatic in their views, were poor at making predictions. (among other things.) After some discussion he made gave a simple test to uncover dogmatism.

"What would it take to change your mind?"

People that can't readily answer this question, haven't generated any opposing views of the topic they are predicting. If you can't answer this question in a reasonable amount of time, then you are probably dogmatic in one way or another.  (You hare committed to your view.  Or you listened to someone else who is committed to their view and not considered the issue further.) Either way, this makes you a poor predictor.

And at this point my mind began to race as I thought of myself. What discussions and arguments do I engage in that I don't adequately consider alternatives to. A few pop up;  Global Warming ('climate change' to you syntactical waffelers. ) Minimum wage. Second Ammendment Rights. And government regulation of things.

The first one that lends itself to examination is Global Warming.
  1. Its a prediction of the future
  2. The whole argument is data based.
So, for the record, I don't think GW is real, in that I don't believe that we are in a warming trend caused by too much CO2.  (Yes, humans exist as part of the environment. And, yes, as part of the environment we leave a foot print. Just like everything else.)  

I have this belief because of the evidence I have seen and the natural processes I have studied and observed.  (My being an evil capitalist that only cares about money has nothing to do with it. If I were an evil capitalist that believed in GW I would start a business capitalizing on it.)

So here is the question. "Roy. What would it take to change your mind about Global Warming?"

This is a dangerous question. Because if I answer it, I'd need to really be willing to change my view. And that might be embarrassing.

But here are the answers.

1. I'd need to see a series of years where we could find regional average temperature increases from year to year on all regions. (Basically I'd like to actually see global warming happening.)  This is not a single or couple of regions, but all regions, increasing every year, for more than three years, (actually, lets say 10 years.)

2. I'd like to see some record in the geological record where temperature increases trends happened after a CO2 increase. According to the data as presented by Berkley's climate modeling data, all historic data points to a CO2 increase following a warming trend. So lets find some time that it has happened before, like we are saying it is happening now.

Okay, I think I've done it. There is what it would take to change my mind.

Now if you are an adherant to Climate Change or Global Warming, please answer the same question.

"What would it take to change your mind?"

Friday, April 4, 2014

About People and Happiness

Part of the story of buddah is that after he left his home, a palace where all sick, old and sad people were forbidden, he began to study the various religious philosophies. It is said that he became a master in each of them.  Then, when they failed to teach him enlightenment, he move to the next one.

If you are only looking at the number of religious philosophies of India back at this time, such a thing would have been impossible. There were just too many to do that in a life time. And to try and attempt this today, on a global stage, it would require multiple life spans to accomplish.

Luckily, this isn't necessary. To paraphrase a proverbial way of looking at this, "You don't need to eat the whole cow-pie to know you have bitten into one." And likewise, one doesn't have to become a master or reach the highest or deepest level of a religion or philosophy to know if it will make you happy.

People just aren't built that way. As a species, we have a highly developed ability to recognize patterns. Its so advanced, that we sometimes find ourselves jumping to conclusions without enough data. I remember as a child, our family stopped at a gas station outside of Las Vegas, and the attendant gave us our change in quarters. (He did this to encourage us to put them in the slot machines of course.)

My mom decided to teach us the futility of gambling and gave my brother and I each two quarters. So I put mine in, and on the second pull, I got back 6 quarters. I was excited and my mother was less so.  My brother put in his quarters, and on his second pull got back 10 quarters.

Well I quickly declared, that we are winning on every other pull and we should put our 2 quarters back in that we each started with to get even more money. Of course neither of us won again, but we did walk away with a bit more than we started with, and a mother that worried she had not taught the lesson she had intended.

My point is, that even as children, we are seeking and recognizing patterns. Patterns are all around us, and we follow them to get the results that we are looking for.

When the result is happiness, we don't have to try and experiment with every form of entertainment, drug, religion, family arrangement, or occupation to find out what will make us happy. We can follow a pattern that leads to happiness simply by looking at other people and determining if they are happy, and what their lifestyle is like.

Lets start with some extremes.  Last time I was waiting for a bus downtown, I saw some homeless people in the park. They had slept there. I watched them and was quickly able to determine that that lifestyle was not one that would make me happy.

This year, I saw a youtube video of a couple that moved to California so they could grow pot. The police had taken their children and they had all sorts of legal troubles. They had a nice house and a great view, but I don't think this lifestyle will make me happy either.

This has been going on my entire life. And I have been gathering as many of the lifestyle attributes as I can to make me happy. This is why I have a wife. This is why we have children. This is why I go to work everyday. (I tried starting my own business a couple of times, but the pattern that starts a business and makes me happy at the same time is still a mystery to me.)  I go to church almost every week.  I pray with my family. (I eat with them to around the table.)

And I confess, I am happy.

Someone tried to sell me on Amway. (This didn't make me happy. But I got through it.) And one of the things they kept trying to identify was something that I wanted. A big house. A big boat. A big check. All of these things may be nice, but I had to tell them over and over that I wasn't just being resistant. (I was being resistant but not only.) But that I really had what I wanted out of life.

My wife and I sometimes have looked at our life with wonder. How did we get to be so lucky. And I think I know.

We didn't try and find a brand new, experimental way to live and be happy and prove to the world that we were smarter than everyone throughout history.

We did follow all of the best patterns available of people that had happy lives and happy marriages and happy families.

Happiness is a pattern. You just have to follow it.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Roy Picks a Bracket

If you are anywhere in the USA, you know that what is called March Madness has infected the workforce of the country. People are calling in sick, and staying up late to watch their DVRs of games. And discussions are rampant in offices and restaurants across the fruited plains. All about the championship  games and predictions.

This year I have also picked out a bracket. (I also picked one last year.) After I picked my last years bracket, I discovered that those little numbers next to the team names were their rankings.  My method in 2013 was to pick the mascots that I liked best. This year my bracket is all underdogs.

My performance seems to be about the same so far.

Why did I do this? Well, I'm glad you asked. Basically, its because sports is about entertainment. I watch movies, I read books, and from time to time I watch sports. I do all of these things to be entertained.

On the other hand, I don't pay attention to what actors are going to rehab, what authors do in their spare time, or what teams and players have what statistical pedigrees. I have other things to do. (Like watch movies, read books and sleep) So without this repository of information picking winners in the March Madness brackets is like flipping coins for me. I just don't care about them enough to get the information.

In summary I have one goal. Its not a goal to learn more about sports, or to come up with a better way to pick a bracket next year. Instead, my goal is not never write about this topic again.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The science of a testimony of Christ

Sometimes people get confused, and mistake a simple belief with a simple mind. This is something I think I see in the condescending attitude of what I'll call the scientific atheist. This group of people are concerned that there is no god, and all religion is a fraud.

They have this view for one of three reasons. First, they have seen no evidence of a god that they recognize, either never having sought it or having sought it but not finding it. Second, they have had a belief in god in the past, but have lost that belief. They either feel they were wrong, or have been convinced that now they are smarter, wiser, or more sophisticated. Third, they have evidence that convinces them that there is no god. This last one is interesting as it's scientifically complex to prove a negative.

Of course, people who do believe in god, don't do so because they are gullible or liars. We believe because we have evidence that he exists. And we don't get this evidence in a nonscientific manner.

The scientific method, in short, is the process of making an observation, forming a hypotheses, testing that hypotheses, and then evaluating the results.

I have tested the existence of God and his son Jesus Christ. The results of my test was that He lives. I have repeated these tests. The results of my tests are consistent. When I fail to get the same result, I can always, quickly, find the reason in myself. When that is corrected, the outcome returns to a clear result that He lives.

But it is not just me, on my own doing these tests. Many many people that I know and trust have repeated these tests. They have confirmed my results and report that He lives.

Thus, I conclude, that God lives. His son Jesus Christ is real. They love us, and we can know and love them. It's not just my opinion. Is been confirmed by a peer review.