I was invited to an epic Christmas party in Pasadena. I was watching the weather all week, since a major storm was predicted and I feared that I-5 at Tejon Pass (“Grapevine Hill“) would have chain restrictions.
Well, it happened again. I was attending a group on management of adolescent behavior. I was there to observe and participate. Nobody knew I was a behavioral neuroscientist. I stayed quiet, until the group facilitator said “Science has proven that video games and social media contribute to behavior problems in adolescents.” I couldn’t keep quiet for that: I spend a great deal of time following the literature in this field, and there is no quality science that backs up that claim. In fact, believe it or not, the bulk of good scientific evidence (not observational reports or anecdotes) show a favorable effect of video games.
I love biking to work, but there are ways that the county government makes it challenging. One thing I run into daily is traffic lights. Often, crossing the street at a light will mean dismounting, walking my bike over to the pedestrian crossing button (often involving lifting the bike over a curb), waiting, then either walking my bike across the road in the crosswalk or crossing back over a right-turn-only lane so that I can ride across legally. Drivers in automobiles sometimes get angry either way: “why aren’t you riding!” if they have to wait for me while I’m walking in the crosswalk, or “get out of the road” if I’m going back to the main traffic lane after pushing the button.
Sometimes, it’s simple things. We’re surrounded by wonders like smart phones and miracle drugs, but sometimes innovation can come entirely from just thinking about a problem differently. If you took an iPhone X 30 years into the past, it wouldn’t do much. Oh, it might be a shiny curiosity, but its function would be limited. Nor would someone in 1988 be able to disassemble it, discover its “secret” and make more of them: the main secret is layer upon layer upon layer of incremental improvements in processor design, chip fabrication, wireless technologies, display mechansims, battery capacities, operating system architecuture… the list goes on and on.
A year or so ago, I was looking for a new phone. I had been using a Google Nexus 6 for two years, ever since I became a beta tester for Project Fi. I loved Project Fi (Google is eversomuch cooler than any other cellular carrier/MVNO in the US), but getting timely updates—even security updates—for the Nexus was like pulling teeth, and they dropped support for what had been their flagship phone barely a year after I bought it. Add to that the fact that there’s no effective private backup solution for Android devices, and I didn’t have any real choice. I had an old iPhone 5 that I had owned for maybe four years, and it was still running the latest version of iOS with all the security updates delivered instantly, while my three-years-newer Android was a security breach waiting to happen.
Josh asked me the other day about how we backed up early hard disks when we didn’t have small portable drives, the internet, NAS, or writable DVDs. I started telling him about my teak box with the tambour top that held 50 (or was it 100?) 1.4MB 3½” floppy disks. I remember a routine of running a backup program while feeding disk after disk into the machine for an hour or two every day.
I remember the shoe store my mother used to take my brother and me to when we were little. I remember men handling my ticklish feet and squeezing them with cold metal implements. I remember being asked, over and over, “Do those feel okay? This is really important. Don’t step off the carpet!” No, they hurt like hell. All of them. Every time. But I quickly got the message that the right answer was to say they feel okay. I remember how, every day, the best part of the day was taking my shoes off at night. When I got to high school, I stopped wearing shoes in favor of tatami sandals. Continue reading
This thought from former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum.