Saturday, February 25, 2023

The Whale and Love

I used to write about films a lot, and then I just stopped. But for the first time in a long time, I'm compelled to say something about a film, mainly because so many reviews I read or watched seemed to get it all wrong. I have to wait for Thomas Flight (brilliant take on The Banshees of Inisherin) or Just an Observation (check out how he explains Barry) to take a stab at it.

The Whale is about the intersection of five people's lives over five days: Charlie, an online college English teacher, Liz, his friend, Ellie, his daughter, Mary, his ex-wife, and Tom, a random missionary that happened to knock on the door as Charlie was having a heart attack. It's about religion in a way that's being missed by the reviews I've read so far. 


Thursday, February 23, 2023

Marooned in Anomie

Jon Mooallem wrote a poignant piece in the New York Times yesterday about a project that's been recording people's experience with the pandemic since March 2020 over individual Zoom calls.

His words, "raise the possibility that when we say the pandemic is over, we are actually seeking permission to act like it never happened--to let ourselves off the hook from having to make sense of it or take seriously its continuing effects." 

This is well-timed to butt up against the Cochrane Review, which said that wearing masks "probably makes little or no difference." It got slammed by many experts in the field explaining, once again, that random control trials aren't the end all and be all of scientific evidence (and here's a take-down of the lead author as well). Some Cochrane critics:

Thursday, February 9, 2023

World Health Network's Safe Schools Initiative

 The World Health Network has a 30 minute video out about Safe Schools with a small panel of people looking at how to make schools DavosSafe!

Michael Bailey, co-founder of Indoor Air Care Advocates, talked about ventilation and filtration. They published a parent advocacy guide to help parents advocate for clean air in schools. Their plan includes:

  • air quality plan that includes monitoring CO2
  • improving and quantifying ventilation (quantifying is most important)
  • portable HEPA or CR boxes to get 6-12 air changes per hour (ACH)
  • operating HVAC fans with Merv 13 or better
  • avoiding any tech that's not recommended, like ionization and foggers
If schools make promises, watch out for "to the extent possible" because that needs to be challenged. If we do all these things, then we can reduce exposure by 80% or better, so we still need N95s and testing. If parents get dubious responses from school, we can send CO2 monitors to classes with students to help characterize ventilation to refute outrageous claims. For example, one father was told the classroom has 10-12 ACH, but his kid's CO2 monitor showed closer to 4ACH, and then the open record request confirmed the lower air change rate. We have ways of getting solid information. 

Monday, February 6, 2023

Dating for Dogs

Lots of people discredit the Myers-Briggs as just a horoscope, but it's significantly different and can be useful in recognizing that we're all innately different kinds of people. This awareness can help us get along in this world and maybe even find love, or at least a better roommate.

Our Tendency to Notice Differences by Type

Dividing people into types based on intrinsic tendencies has been around for millennia, born of scrutinized observations of human nature. Ayurvedic Doshas were recorded about 3,000 years ago identifying people who are Vata (energetic but scattered), Pitta (systematic and ambitious, but dogmatic), or Kapha (methodical but slow moving). The four humours came around 500 years later with
Alcmaeon of Croton to differentiate those who tend to be sanguine (enthusiastic, active, social), phlegmatic (reserved, intellectual, solitary), choleric (ambitious, decisive, short-tempered), or melancholic (depressive, cold, dry). If you think of those categories long enough, you can easily find yourself playing a game of slotting your friends and family under each term.

Then Jung wrote Psychological Types in 1921, outlining opposing traits along three continuums: extraverted/introverted, sensing/intuitive, and thinking/feeling. (That last one might be better updated to task-oriented/people-oriented.) Although it produces only nine specific types, the continuum set-up provides infinite possibilities within each set of letters. It's similar to being mainly melancholic with a touch of sanguine, or having a primary and secondary dosha. Jung explains his stance on innate personality:

Sunday, February 5, 2023

The Times They are A-Changin'

Doing another degree has been eye opening to see how much university has changed over the past 20 years since my last Masters. TL;DR: It's a lot more like high school! I'm doing it at the same time as my youngest is in first year (at the same university even!), so I'm able to see the differences in undergrad programs as well. 

First of all - attendance counts!! In all the uni courses I took between 1986 and 1999, attendance was never taken. Now it's worth 10% of the grade in my courses and my daughter's. I hate this change for a few reasons. Pedagogically, a student's presence in the classroom isn't an accurate tool for assessment. I can show up every day and be stealthily listening to a podcast, or never come but do a thorough read of the textbook and understand the content perfectly. The professor is there to explain the concepts, and some courses require less explanation for some students. I like being able to assess my own needs to be in class. In first year psych, I went to the first class, then just showed up to the midterm and exam when I realized we're just following along with the text. What I absolutely loved about going to university was being given the freedom to make choices -- and make some mistakes. 

I took a history of feminism course once, got perfect on the midterm without effort, so stopped going to class or reading the text and, of course, totally bombed the final. I didn't know how much I didn't know! But I needed to learn that lesson on being too cocky for my own good! The more that people are saved from themselves, the fewer chances they have to learn how they learn. 

And... Covid. If attendance is worth 10%, then people show up when they're sick, and then other people get sick. That's just dumb.