Monday, July 28, 2014

"Casablanca" should win an award ... for most sexist film

Recently I watched Casablanca with a group of other people.  They gushed about how it's one of the most romantic films of all time!  It's such a true love story!

Let's review the female characters in this film:

1. Yvonne is being passed around from man to man, who take her home for sex and then treat her like garbage the next day.  We know basically nothing else about her.

2. The young Romanian woman is preparing to have sex with the police chief, in exchange for a visa.  We know basically nothing else about her.

3. Ilsa's beauty is praised continually.  She doesn't seem to have ambitions of her own, other than following her husband around or following Rick around.  Her only decision is which man to follow around.  But even that decision is too hard for her.  She tells Rick, "I don't know what's right any longer.  You'll have to do the thinking for both of us."

There were no other significant female roles in the film.  To recap, the only roles were a French woman being used for sex, a Romanian woman being used for sex, and a woman with beauty and no discernible skills who abdicates the single decision in her life.

This movie blows.  I don't know why anyone thinks it's romantic.

Yes, it is touching how Rick puts aside his relationship with Ilsa in order to help the world, because his problems don't amount to a hill of beans.  That part is good.

But otherwise it's ridiculous to say that one of the "greatest love stories of all time" is one that represses women to this extreme.  Why don't you just say that "one of the best stories about ideal racial relations" is 12 Years a Slave?

Friday, July 25, 2014

flamewars over anything

I chuckled out loud at the unnecessary aggression on this comment thread about MongoDB database's default setting of writes silently failing:

Andreas: Don’t complain about incompetent usage of a technology where you obviously did not read half of the tutorial. It is clearly documented and explained on IRC, lists, slides etc. a trillion times a day that the default behavior is fire-and-forget (means no check by default).

jhanson: Is this the same Andreas Jung who said: “The “safe” mode is off by default: who made this idiotic decision?”

Andreas: And? Did I claim in my former comment that the default is a good thing? Learn to read please.

Soda Glass: You certainly sounded so. Learn to write please!

Being on the sidelines, I'm laughing at all of these, but I'm sure if I were the one being attacked, I would not find it so funny.

Here is another one that's funny when you're not involved:
Dan: You shouldn’t have to check for errors. I don’t check if I ran out of heap space after every line I write.

foljs: And neither do the MongoDB developers it seems…

It is amusing how programmers on the internet will viciously attack each other, based on no provocation. But why are we doing this to each other? Shouldn't we programmers band together?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

update on sleep experiment

Three months ago, I decided to improve my sleeping habits.  Here is what I've learned so far:

1. Falling asleep.  It turns out I dislike the time period of lying in bed waiting to fall asleep.  Things that are more interesting than lying motionless with eyes closed include: reading, watching a movie, writing code, or any number of activities.

So I previously would just stay up until I was so tired that I would fall asleep instantly, thus skipping the boring part.

But this meant that I would go to sleep quite late.

Things that did not work include:
  • setting a reminder to go to sleep earlier
  • avoiding blue light for two hours before "bedtime"
  • announcing my intention to go to sleep earlier, and asking others to hold me accountable

Things that did work include:
  • listening to a meditation video during the boring part of falling asleep

2. Waking up.  I was previously waking up earlier than I wanted to.  As soon as I became awake, I would get up, instead of trying to fall back asleep for another hour until my desired waking time.

Things that work include:

  • using an eye mask and earplugs to avoid being woken up by light or sound
  • listening to a meditation video in order to fall back asleep again

An obstacle was that it turns out that in the half-awake, half-asleep state, my brain makes problems seem ten times more arduous than they appear in the sober light of full day.  I previously countered this by spending as little time as possible in that limbo state, often by just getting up.  Now I try to meditate.


With this effort, I've managed to increase my average sleeping time from 6h 30m to 7h 10m.  Sadly, in the Ericcson study of violinists, the elite bucket slept 8h 36m, and even the worst-performing bucket slept 7h 48m.  I'm still significantly below even the worst bucket, sigh.

But focus on the positive!  I increased my sleep by 40 minutes!  That's a lot!

There was one week I got up to an average of 8h.  It felt like a new lease on life.  Something to aim for.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


I decided to go camping by myself this summer.  I want two days of peace and solitude in the wilderness.  I've wanted to do this ever since my 2-day "solo period" during survival school, but I'm finally going to put it into practice.


Survival school taught me how to create a shelter, purify water, treat cuts, and deal with wild animals and lightning.  The only thing I fear is encountering a dangerous stranger, but Sha-mayn brilliantly told me to get pepper spray.  I ordered it from Amazon, and now I'm prepared!

The only question is whether to get this 1-pound camp chair.  It looks so comfortable, and has back support!  But it is going to add one pound (5% additional weight to my pack).

Also I already am departing from "survival mode camping" by bringing a tent and flashlight, and this just goes further down the slippery slope.  At least the tent has a functional purpose of providing warmth and shelter, and the flashlight helps with safety.  The chair is only for luxury.  It has no function other than making my back feel great.  What if this camp chair is the gateway drug to camping trips with pillows and hammocks?