both sides now

September 25, 2019

i started with a “bottom-up” approach hoping it solidly grounds “learners” on the “basics” – hoping that they can build upon the “fundamentals” (as “constructivist theory espouses).  However (and i could be wrong), certain topics seem to me “better” suited for “top-down” pedagogical design as this focuses on a particular concept not only to build confidence but, also, to encourage interest  (like they do in music by giving students a piece to practice).  This not only provides them the expected output (allowing them to validate their work or check if they are on the “right” track) but help identify which topics  (and the “order” in which they are introduced)  they need to learn (as it’s not practical to cover everything about a programming language – how long is a pice of string?  Certain “minutiae”  may be interesting but must be omitted for the sake of “practicality).

This may result in longer times between releases but if there’s anything i’ve verified through my own experience with project (software development in particular) that “front-loading” is more cost-effective as it’s ‘cheaper” to make changes “earlier” in a product’s lifecyvle

 

 

born to run

November 24, 2017

PBS Newshour showed again Part 1 of Jeffrey Brown‘s interview with Bruce Springsteen (originally aired December 19, 2016; the video url: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/bruce-springsteen-tackles-truth-song-memoir ). It was meant to be a promo of his memoir but it was much more to me.

He might not be my favourite artist or a technical singer but like he says: he’s learned to ‘inhabit his songs’ which makes his songs more believable.  Moreover, his working-class roots makes him seem authentic and relatable. I don’t pretend to be an expert on him (or his numerous works) but it wasn’t until I heard the original acoustic (and much more slower) version of ‘Born in the USA’ that I thought I understood the lyrics and what that song was truly about.

As he says in his interview and his in his new memoir “I wasn’t modest in the assessment of my abilities. Of course, I thought I was a phony (sic). That is the way of the artist. But I also thought I was the realest thing you had ever seen.” It’s about dichotomy, I guess – existing on two different planes at the same time.  For me, a real artist lives (and exists) with contradictions – they are only human after all.

You can watch Part 2 at https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/music-medicine-bruce-springsteen

almost famous

November 13, 2017

the other night I saw the 2015 dramatic film: “The End of the Tour” on SBS.  I wasn’t sure I was going to like it – it was essentially a conversation and given it’s difficult as medium skews heavily toward being visual- but I really enjoyed it.  It was an interview over several days by David Lipsky representing Rolling Stone magazine about the critically-acclaimed author David Foster Wallace (I must confess whose name I hadn’t heard before).

I found that actors cast, Jason Segel (for Wallace) and Jesse Eisenberg (for Lipsky) were well-thought choices.  They were both “smart” enough that neither performance seemed “wooden” (suffice it to say it wasn’t an enormous stretch to suspend disbelief).   This can be “tricky” given it was a mainly dialogue-driven plot.

Aside from the words, I think what drew me in was the shared “addiction” of watching too much television.  Moreover, I can relate to wanting a job where not too much thinking is required (as a respite of sorts) – it reminded me of a friend that once said that a “mindless” task was a welcome break for her from her usual job.  Furthermore, I liked that within it was featured an action movie that didn’t require a whole lot of mental horsepower to enjoy (to what I viewed as juxtaposition when the characters watched a black-and-white film on tv).

I found the scene meaningful when the proponents couldn’t find where they parked their rental car in the airport.  This just illustrates how there are different kinds of smarts and how book-smarts is not always preferable in accomplishing certain everyday tasks.  As the adage goes:  Common Sense is not that common.  This is a moment of levity that cuts the seriousness of an otherwise dry account.

I enjoyed the line:  “Nice but not real.” How some situations are artificial – one doesn’t have to look far for the often fabricated constructs of reality tv.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m not hating on the entire genre but, like all “entertainment”, some shows are more “watchable” given the individual’s purpose.

I’m now curios about Wallace’s opus of a novel:  Infinite Jest and Lipsky’s best-selling memoir: Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. Hopefully, I’ll eventually have time to read them.

heart and mind

October 24, 2017

saw an exhibit of an artist friend of mine who did a Ph.D.  My wife and I met her at the Adelaide Convention Centre – it’s been a couple of years since we last caught up but it feels like it was just yesterday that we met.

she said something of interest to me: the colour yellow sometimes indicates psychotic disturbance –   I had a feature wall at our home painted that hue.  I shared that when the lines on both palms (often referred to as the heart and head lines) align it is said that (I’m of course paraphrasing) that you’re either a genius or crazy – both of us share this rare trait while most of the populations’ lines do not meet.  It might be a case of self-aggrandisement but I subscribe to that belief.

That said, why can’t it be two sides of the same coin?  The traditional notion is either-or, binary thinking. Surely, the interstitial side (often with the grooves) is more interesting.

My upbringing and training often focused on the ‘how’ but psychology  and art has led me to believe the ‘why’ is just as important.

the sound of silence

October 7, 2017

i’m currently watching the HBO documentary:  Soundtracks: Songs that Defined History on SBS and can’t help but notice how music affects our demeanour and the way we think. This just highlighted for me how some people like songs without fully understanding the words – I can’t help but think of The Police’s Roxanne and Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side.

The recent death of Tom Petty made me think.  I thought it was just the melody that made me like his music but it was brought to my attention that some of his lyrics were profound – it seems at a subconscious level I knew: music is important but I always believed that lyrics are paramount.

It is rare that an entire album is good (IMHO there are just a few of these). Full Moon Fever is one of my favourites.  Aside from liking the songs, I get a kick out of his intermission:  how CD owners need to wait in oder to be fair to vinyl owners that need to flip the record to side b.

despacito

August 24, 2017

Maybe it’s just because I’m not a Belieber or due to nostalgia (I grew up watching Sesame Street after all and I am a fan of Ernie and the Rubber Duckie Song) but I really liked El Patito (a parody of Despacito).  I don’t typically share things online but couldn’t resist forwarding it to few people – sorry for the unsolicited e-mails.

Anyway, here it is – enjoy:

words

August 8, 2017

i could ignore it no longer – I’ve set-up a private blog to workshop my writing: https://linswrting.blogspot.com.au/

strange bedfellows

March 20, 2017

they recently showed the Theory of Everything on free-to-air tv.  While Stephen Hawking is an inspirational figure, he’s not necessarily aspirational for me.  I’m nowhere near as smart.  We need people we can relate to.  I accomplish things because I’m not dumb and work really hard.

I know Dr. Stephen Strange is fictional but I could weirdly relate more to the film Doctor Strange.  I’m not a surgeon but I guess it had to do with embracing the unexplainable despite bring logical.

Strangely enough in the movie Logan, I could relate to both Professor X and Wolverine –   this was the first time I saw myself in two characters.  Maybe it was their “fall from grace” so atypical of a superhero flick or maybe it’s because I’m such a comic book nerd.

Regardless, we’re all different, relate to certain things, and process things at our own pace.  Despite people’s insistence, a single, magic, silver bullet  “solution” doesn’t always exist.  Some issues are divergent or require multiple things acting in harmony.  Narrowing it to one thing would be great but that isn’t always possible.

they might be “giants”

February 23, 2017

Newton coined the expression standing on the shoulder of giants. With the advent of the Internet I think this could be extended by adding goblins and gnomes to giants.

Aside from what to do, I think you can also learn from what NOT to do. Hence the term goblins.  I’ve always felt you can gain from people what to emulate and what to avoid.  Granted some of this may be repetitious but sometimes lessons need to be repeated to ensure they are drilled in thoroughly.

I subscribe to the wisdom of the crowd and individual empowerment.  You can also build upon ideas of people who might not be considered as giants in their field – that’s why I use the term gnome to highlight the contrast.  An idea may be good despite its origin.  Admittedly, we are more likely to learn from “experts” (being a teacher in a former life, it would be hypocritical to think otherwise).  That said, we also need to be open and allow cross-pollination from other disciplines or differing opinions.  All ideas must be given a fair chance.

The original quote will always be valid but IMHO it can do with an adaption to our times.

patience (is a virtue)

November 29, 2016

we are born with two ears and one mouth – having difficulties speaking has led me to listen more (but that deserves another entry of its own).  Common practice dictates that you should hold off for 24 hours on sending an emotionally (or alcoholic) induced e-mail, text or tweet (much like counting down from 10 or taking long, deep breaths can aid in dissipating excess emotion). If you still think it’s appropriate later on then go for it – I guess making it difficult to type has its perks and writing a post over a few days helps me to reflect and reevaluate more.  Despite my Vulcan-like demeanor, I exhibit more human behavior now. If I still really feel strongly about something, I can blog about it.  That said, my words need to be tempered by the saying: “it’s easier to condemn than to convince.”  Sure, sometimes it’s hubris but at times it’s simply therapy, expression or observation.  This is not a “manifesto” to abstain from commentary, it’s just one should be able to distinguish what one’s true purpose is.  Having a combination of these factors is not necessarily a bad thing:  it’s being conscious of what’s subjective versus objectivity that’s important.  Intentions (and motivations) need to be transparent.

A “wise” editor once told me that everything is political and that being apolitical is a political choice.  I’ve since embraced this tenet – after all, our thinking is not only a function of our genes but also of our experiences.  Sometimes it can look like I’m fence-sitting when I just don’t have enough facts or am considering the nuances – the devil is in the details after all.  The question I ask is how, if at all, does this affect me or my family?  Sure, I’ve got opinions about many things but does it really matter in the grand scheme of thing or is the motivation so that I feel better.

I used to think that it was “simply” a matter of quality over quantity.  But to paraphrase the Pulitzer-prize author, Jennifer Egan, one needs to write regularly, even badly at times, to be able to ultimately write well.  In this vein, I pour my writing into one document – not everything makes it to be published under my blog; not everything is meant to be shared with the rest of the world (some are best left as “inner” dialogue – look at the trouble Homer’s gotten into throughout the years).   That said, perfect can be the enemy of good so it can also be helpful to get something out there and not “oversanitise” or self-censor everything.  From experience, some comments can be constructively critical and useful for refining your thoughts and others you need to consider with a grain of salt (public spaces can be a great boon but also a huge bane at the same time – wisdom of the crowd vs. trolls and haters).