2008 Year End

2008 is winding down. I have been busy recently so have not had much time to post. A quick review of the movie "Yes Man". I am not a big Jim Carrey fan; he is OK but just not a type of humor that normally attracts me. I went to "Yes Man" with friends and it was better than I expected. The scene of the EST/revival/groupthink meeting was hilarious.

My friend Nancy and I are heading to Mike and Karen's wonderful NYE party in a short while. Please be safe this NYE.

I wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2009.


I attended a baby shower.

When I started to write this post the words of Bob Dylan came to mind: The times they are a-changin'. When I was growing up in small town Kansas men did not attend baby showers. Later I reached a more advanced civilization in California and I can remember attending a baby shower where the ratio of men to women was about equal. Today I attended a baby shower; I was in California, the mother-to-be was in Colorado, other participants were scattered in various places from Texas to Europe.

The event occurred within Second Life and was incredibly great. The attendees were mostly from the extended Extropian/Transhumanist community. The mother-to-be is an extremely intelligent person and held us all with rapt attention as she discussed topics ranging from IVF to childbirth to mother and child bonding to the issues related to women and family and children in science and technology careers. The discussion was a combination of text and voice and worked well for the most part. It lasted over an hour and the time went quickly. Comments and questions were good for a lively discussion.

It seems to me that this baby shower in Second Life can serve to help illustrate the changes which have already occurred and those which will likely occur in the coming decades. The technological changes (hardware, software, networks) which allow for this real time communication in a virtual world are one obvious feature. But beyond that are the increasing roles of women in science and technology fields. This is not to say that there are not obstacles for women however progress has occurred. Now women have more choices including freezing their eggs so that they can pursue education and careers for a couple of decades and then in their late 40s or early 50s become pregnant. The ability to be healthy enough for bearing a child at that later age is being facilitated by the general increase in knowledge about human health and how that health can be extended to later in life.

But these advances are not uniform through out the world. They are not uniform geographically but they are also not uniform within in a geographic region. So let us work to steadily increase the choices and liberties of individuals. Think about what the baby shower will be like in a few more decades? Hopefully everyone everywhere will have the opportunity to be at least at the social and technical level that I experienced today. Hopefully we will all be even more advanced.

And why just think about baby showers a few decades in the future? What about a few centuries? What will a baby shower even mean? I would like to be there. So yes the times are changing and we can all work to make the changes positive and to increase individual liberty. It may not be a guarantee to a better future but it the best path that I know of.

Saw the movie Milk

Saturday night I saw the movie Milk. It was well done and I recommend it. The movie worked well in covering not only the personal life and history of Harvey Milk but also touched on some of the context issues related to San Francisco and also the rest of USA. At the end of the movie I noticed that most people sat in their seats watching the credits. As a straight white male in his 50s I found the movie very engaging even though I had just moved to San Jose a few months before Milk and Moscone were murdered so the events were prominent in the local news and thus I already knew quite a bit about what had happened. There were several things that I either did not know or had forgotten such as the role that the Coors beer boycott played.



There is a site GenderAnalyzer.com that claims to be able to determine the gender of a web page author. I was somewhat sceptical to begin with but on December 1 I entered the URL for this blog http://blog.lightingonemorecandle.com/ and the site told me that they were 61% sure it was written by a woman. Of course they were wrong; all of it was written by me. There was a check box to indicate if they were right or wrong so I checked Wrong and hit Submit and the next page showed the results of 802 Correct and 671 Incorrect. So they were correct 54% and incorrect 46% of the time.

So not being able to fall asleep I tried it again at a bit after midnight on December 5 and this time it said that it was 62% sure that this blog was written by a woman. Of course it was wrong and what is more interesting is that there was not change or new posts or comments made between the two tests. Now they claim that they are at 1150 Correct and 965 Incorrect which is still in the 54% to 46% rate.

I was very sceptical of this Gender Analysis program but I thought it might be amusing. Well it was amusing enough to be the subject of this blog post but not much more. If a person is setting up a system to do any kind of analysis it is usually a good idea to the the system store knowledge about the specific input. So ideally it would have been slightly more reasonable if the analysis program had stored the URL, the dates of posts and other information about the page along with the crucial piece of information the this blog is written by a man. I could have then reported two values; what it found based on prior knowledge and what it computed based on its algorithms.