Learning Curves: My Fun Blog

On life. One learning curve at a time on the path to becoming a renaissance man.

Pilates in life and dance, part #4 (I think)
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Pilates in life and dance, part #4 (I think). This time - leading.

When dipping a lady, I try and progress as far as I feel my strength would allow, as needed, combined with my and her balance.

I especially like a specific dip, where it is followed by a head loll of sorts, the follower dips and releases her neck to lay her head back when she is done (her call). This can be dangerous if not led right due to potential whiplash with the head. Much care is advised. This happened to me once and I am happy it was with Elissa Gutterman or I might have lost a limb in retribution.

If done right, the dip could be quick or slow, and broken down into quick and slow elements, even combined with a safe whip of the head.

Now to the Eureka! moment - with increasing awareness of my own head in my over-all body position, I noticed that it assumes a better position when I straighten my spine into a good position, regardless of what position I put it in. Beginning all the way all the way down from the sacrum. Further, Pilates provides me with an increasing awareness of my own spine as it unwinds, one vertebra at a time.

This weekend in Ukraine, I danced with a great follower - I think it was Olga Braslavska) and was about to dip her, when I felt her spine unwind, and knew exactly when she reaches her limit at the top of the spine and can relax her head.

While I experienced many changes in my dance since I started Pilates - in my own body, my use of the floor, my styling, and generally in my awareness - I never expected this awareness of the follower.

I am an extremely sensitive guy, I can sense anything the follower does, from the bounce in her spine in a hip catch (thanks Robert Royston!), through her muscle tone in her core (thanks Maxime Zzaoui and Rebecca Ludwick!), to her weight shifts (thanks Ronen Khayat, David Ornstein, and Dorit Shalom!). Sometimes (not close to always) I can even match it in some fashion - but I'm not that good of a dancer yet.

But this? Talk about motivation to do more Pilates! With all the buzz about how Pilates is good for dancers, I never even heard of this kind of awareness.

2 months of Pilates and counting!

AWESOME!!! <3

Presenting yourself in dance with Pilates
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Yet another Pilates update and how it affects my life and dance:

I love how some things just come by Osmosis over time, rather then by hard work - once you're aware of them.

Ever since the wonderful WCS intensive with Maxime Zzaoui at NYSF I've been looking at dancers who catch my eye on the dance floor, and how they present themselves, chest open to the world.

With Pilates in my life, one month in and I do that more and more myself, just because I already had that concept in my head.

Thanks Pilates, and thanks Maxime!

Pilates <3
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Some of the crazy ways in which Pilates affects my life and dance so far, after just a month!

1. I find my posture improving in ways I did not anticipate. for example: it is so much fun to feel my head straightening bit by bit even if I just straighten my lower spine (lumbar), and as I progress through the vertebra all the way up. Truly mind blowing.

2. I find myself imitating Pilates positions during dance.

3. I collect my stomach during moments like a tuck turn which better connects me to the floor and my follower.

Defining moments
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This post is more about my thought process then that one moment, so if this is too long for you, please just skip the post entirely and don't read it. Or read only the last part "on my experience".

I decided to share my defining experience from UK championships openly for a few reasons, risking people just thinking it's about boasting. I'm okay with that, though.

On fame -
Those of you who for a time decided to run the conference circuit know what it's like to be a pro in your field at a public event.

Even back in 2007 I couldn't literally walk one meter at the defcon hotel without being stopped by yet another person looking to talk to me. At one point it became so ridiculous I walked a mile around the Vegas hotel to get to eat lunch at the food court. I may have been an abrasive Israeli who did not know how to talk to people from abroad, but I wasn't an a-hole.

Sometimes it would be friends. Other times it would be someone looking to exchange a few words with the guy who just spoke on stage or who ran some project or op he likes, at yet other times it was somebody with a question. Sometimes it was simply because I kept myself very approachable.

I pride myself on nearly always making the time. I am no different then anyone who approached me, I just took the time to prepare a talk... or three (and boy am I a loud one!)

On fame in Dance -
That is why while I like the pros in Dance who are approachable and who stay up to dance with us all night more then others, I still hold deep respect for those who don't.
"The pro isn't your bitch," they work hard all day long and need some time to rest (and party). There is a limit to how much social energy any person, professional or not, can bring into play - even if that is their job.

So, while it takes a bit more to get me to be star struck, sometimes it happens to me as well. Starting dance later in life (I'm not that old, but y'know) is a humbling yet exhilarating experience, even more then just struggling with something new.
You learn about yourself, the world around you, and how they connect. You get better, you struggle, and you have immense amounts of fun. And you see these pros at the top, some of whom are nice, some of whom aren't. They're people just like you, and they inspire you nonetheless.
I am highly committed to dance, I am also highly addicted to dance. The experience, the adrenaline, and the constant learning.
That does not change the fact that just a few minutes with one of these pros made me far more then committed, they made me join the religion of dance for life.

On my experience -
I don't compete. I used to, but very soon found out my main interests are social dance and getting better. Competition didn't do it for me. And yet, sometimes, when a nice girl asks me to be her partner, we do it for fun.
As a friend defined it, while I don't care about not winning (first rule of winning is wanting to win), I do mind it. So, after a competition I tend to be contemplative and quiet for a day or two.

Maybe I am making a big deal out of nothing, but the following morning one of the very top pros in my dance left his workshop for 5 seconds in the middle of a group exercise to catch me. He reached out to me to say he really liked my dancing, and would like to spend 10 minutes with me to give me some feedback, free of charge.

There is nothing harder then getting feedback when you don't compete. The offered 10 minutes aside, his willingness, his reaching out to me, was what made all the difference. It made me a disciple of this dance for life, rather then just the next 5-10 years.

You may decide I'm over playing this, and it may not sound like much, but for me - it was a defining moment.
It may have just been a small kindness, but it is my *choice* to make it a defining moment. Defining moments, much like luck, are made - not fallen into.

Thanks for reading (if you made it this far). I'll see you at the next dance event, a beginner dancer, but now - on a mission. I'm starting to compete.

Thank you Robert Royston and Nicola Royston.

Autoimmue deflection
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A group of small kids tried to give me leaflets in the street, I immediately responded with "no thank you."
I make it a goal to acknowledge everyone, from a beggar to a mall booth salesperson, even if it means they will nag me more.

A second later another group of kids approaches me with an adult who says "why not ask this nice gentleman?"

They were advertising a blood donations run... I thanked them at eye level.

I feel like a douche for my automatic reaction to the previous group of kids.

Modern life programs us to do some things as automatons, but it's moments such as these when we find out where our attention belongs.

Amendment to self defense rule: when it's kids, even if they are manipulating you, respond with a smile and a thank you.

Learning Python vs. learning Programming through Python
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Of all the resources to learn Python I chose Codecademy, which step by step teaches you the language. Or does it?

While I am VERY happy with how Codecademy works using step by step victories... AND I actively recommend it, it teaches you to program, not to be a Python programmer. Example:

# Write your function below!
def fizz_count(x):
....count = 0
....for item in x:
........if item == "fizz":
............count = count +1
.
....return count
.
fizz_count(["fizz","cat","fizz"])
print count
My mentor suggested I use the python help and the IDLE autocomplete function to learn Python, and (mind blown #4) think about how I'd write the code in plain language, or pseudo-code.

On the code above, he asked me:
"What is the simplest way you can imagine to accomplish what you want to do?"
I answered: "count"

Here is the new code:
list.count("fizz")
Where list stands in for fizz_count from above.

Python kicks me where it hurts
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Python kicks me out of the box #2:
If I write more then 3 lines of code, I am doing it wrong - look for a function that does it for you.

Python kicks me out of the box #3:
Use the live interpreter to work, the editor is holding you back.

Python - the first culture shock
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What do you mean there's no index++ in Python??!?!

Python is very intuitive - to people who haven't coded before. You don't need to go and bother creating indexes and counters, it just works.

A For loop works like a For Each, where the value of what you're looking at is what Python looks at rather than an index.

I was stuck for hours before consulting with my mentor. I was stuck in a box.

Gadi.

The path to mastery is long
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The path to mastery is long.

As you may know, I am pathologically curious and want to understand everything, I never know where my next inspiration will come from or what idea will pop.

Connecting the dots in a specific concept I've been tackling - or better - thinking up a new one.

By contemplation, by hard study, by waiting calmly, or by learning ... of history, of street graffiti, or of Life on Mars. I want to be exposed to it all. You never know.

Then, I want to understand what I can do with it. Make the abstract practical.

Truly, I love the life I've constructed for myself, and thankful for the luck I've had; by random chance, that which others made for me, and that which I've made for myself.

Thank you all for being such amazing fellow travelers.

The path to mastery is long, and I'm enjoying the journey.

YES! Time. I can upgrade myself!
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In the next 1-4 months I get to spend most of my time in Israel! Would you believe it?
(Sometime in that period of time I will know if I move abroad permanently or start working in Israel full time.
...Which means my evenings and weekends are free.
Other than resting - a lot, I have plans.

Aside to catching up on TV shows, watching some of my old time favorites, and investing in my friends...
With an over-reaching goal for 4 months from now, and milestones every month, my goals are, by categories:

Professional life:
1. Learn Python, start contributing in a friend's startup or contribute to an open source project, 5 hours a week total.

Resources:
Books, Internet, mentor, 2-5 hours a day.
Start: Last week.

2. Get back into Linux to the level of qualifying for an entry level sysadmin job (not looking for a sysadmin job, just a goal)

Resources:
Mac laptop, 4 Linux VMs, one book, mentor, 2-3 hours a day.
Start: in 2 weeks.

Health:
1. Start Pilates.

Resources:
Personal trainer, 2 hours a week
Start: Tomorrow at noon.

2. Get back into functional training/gym

Resources:
Gym membership, personal trainer, 6 hours a week (2 * 3)
Start: Next week.

Dance:
1. Go back into a daily practice routine.

Resources:
Mirror, video camera, videos, floor, dance shoes.

Start: in 2 weeks.

2. Learn basis of Authentic Jazz (solo vernacular dance) by June so that I can be ready for Intermediate level at Herrang week 3.

Resources:
Videos, friends, mirror, camera, floor, dance shoes.

Knowledge (if I have time left!!)
1. Start and finish 2 online courses on Coursera on subjects of general interest.

Resources:
Coursera!
Start: Last week.

To work! To fun! To life!

The path to inspiration
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The path to mastery is long.

As you may know, I am pathologically curious and want to understand everything, I never know where my next inspiration will come from or what idea will pop.

Connecting the dots in a specific concept I've been tackling - or better - thinking up a new one.

By contemplation, by hard study, by waiting calmly, or by learning ... of history, of street graffiti, or of Life on Mars. I want to be exposed to it all. You never know.

Then, I want to understand what I can do with it. Make the abstract practical.

Truly, I love the life I've constructed for myself, and thankful for the luck I've had; by random chance, that which others made for me, and that which I've made for myself.

Thank you all for being such amazing fellow travelers.

The path to mastery is long, and I'm enjoying the journey.

It's about PASSION
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Sitting at the Hard Rock's Punta Cana in my room's porch, I consider yet again how people's distinction between "career" and "life" is misguided. The key word is PASSION.

It's about PASSION.
I have many passions - some of them unrelated to my work, such as dancing and teaching dance. Wherever I go, I find a dancing night.

But work is one of my major passions. How can I spend so much of my life behind a desk (or currently 27 days a month in an airplane) if it wasn't?

There is nothing wrong with working days to enjoy nights - I've done that. We all have a mortgage to pay.

But is that enough? For others it may be, for me, it isn't.

Set a vision, follow through, and know that a year from now, or five years from now, you'll work where your passion is. It's that simple.

I work hard, and I enjoy every moment of it - especially the hard ones!

Do you understand?
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I keep thinking about this one. It rings so true... and yet... it is not how I see things. So why do I keep going back to it?

I read a story once:
A father told his kid to go and stick a knife into the white picket fence every time he got angry, rather than act angry. After a while when the kid got angry less and less, he took him to the fence and said:
"You see? You are no longer angry but the scars of what you do are still there"
I found it inspiring, especially the bit about learning to identify the MOMENT and learn to control our actions over time. Kairos.

Then again while the image displays a world where what's done can't be undone, for me such situations are not about "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" - the answer often given when the reasoning of "I did not intend for this to happen" is given, forgiveness matters. To me, someone's intent - why they did what they did - matters a lot. Someone may have done something hurtful, but unintentionally.

Which brings me to the last part which constructs my thinking on this, another image with text from FB, from a while back:

We can forgive, and we can choose not to. But while moments in time define us, life is more than just a moment. We can grow and learn from the past rather than remain broken - battle scars, if you like.



No situation in life is binary and as simple as the text in the original image makes it out to be, but the reason I liked it as-is and only now write more about it, is because I believe it captures a moment in human life which is truly profound.

Gadi.

The work honours the worker
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I now finally fully understand the meaning of the Israeli/Hebrew saying "The work honours the worker" - העבודה מכבדת את בעליה - which is often said about people who work at menial jobs. Understanding the words that they earn money for their living which is respectable, stating it as a form of disclaimer, and really appreciating the meaning, are two different things.

Being out of a job at a couple of points in my life, worrying about the next paycheck and worrying about supporting those around me, didn't make me understand. Feeling really bad about older people cleaning after me didn't make me understand, although very uncomfortable.

I tried meeting eyes, avoiding the eyes, making conversation, carrying through...
.... fine-tuning how to best respect these gray people who work at menial jobs at an older age, serving me to take care of themselves and dependents and not just as as a part time job to pass the time. Many of these folks were hard working their entire lives, and even if they weren't....

I don't yet know how to best show this respect, and I'm not yet sure how we as a society can change things for the better, but I am thinking about it.

Especially when the system is built in such a way that even if you are well educated and hard working, you may just end up in the street at an older age.

I believe in a capitalistic system, and it achieves, in my view, better social care and reforms. However, even if I was a pure capitalist and believed the problem "takes care of itself", I now have a winning argument to justify in discussions why socialistic aspects are also required at some level in every country (for my US friends, you're already a fully socialistic country by your definitions from a hundred years ago).

The argument is... to alleviate suffering now, tactically, while we work for the future, strategically.

[yes the argument is not very well structured - jumping around and reaching baseless conclusions, give me a few months so I think on this one or two more times.]

Anger?
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A few days ago I felt anger. I was truly insulted.
I felt this physically - I am a very aware person, both to my feelings and of my body.

This is not a common occurrence with me. In fact, it never happened in such an extreme manner - so it was new to me.
I nearly never get angry or feel insulted. I sometimes get "angry" for a second, saying "say what??" but it's over 'just like that' or at worst in a few hours. I am not an angry person in the true sense of the word.

I like to understand my feelings, as there was a time when I couldn't. Back then, I would act rationally and not understand I've been hurt. While I still miss things at times as it is an on-going process, those days are behind me.

This particular time, when I recognized what was going on, I was angry and it indeed affected me physically. It lasted for days.

I now understand why. Giving something a name often helps.

I've been bullied.

I let myself be bullied because the situation did not warrant a response. Sitting in a meeting and being dictated to, being treated as a second-rate person, is not something I am willing to let happen, and yet I did.
Being deeply connected to what was going on emotionally. Making sure the outcome of the meeting was "good" was important to me. I think the reason for all of this was because it wasn't really "me" there, I was a representative, which meant my feelings come second. We learn.

I was caught off-guard as I don't expect these things in my private life where people who surround me care about me.
We learn. We grow. We do things differently.

I hate bullies. I've never been bullied even back in high-school, I see no reason to start now by allowing it to happen. I just didn't realize it was happening, which is something I need to think about.

Putting this in words helps me understand it better, and I already feel better. I am not looking for sympathy, just quiet empathy. No reason to reply to this post.

Next!

Feminism and social exclusion of men
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Once again my opinion on a matter of feminism is not considered at face value, but by me being a man, first. Devaluing me and socially excluding me from the conversation, where I know a lot and care a lot about the subject matter.

It's possible my opinion would have been disliked regardless, but the likelihood of it happening no matter what it is, unless it is complete agreement with the women I happen to be discussing with, is much, much lower.

Feminism is ironically, and understandably, a field of social exclusion, when we men are a part the solution. Even though I understand why this happens, it makes me less and less inclined to engage in discussion and ever so sad as an activist.

The Gadi Disclaimer - TGD
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The Gadi Disclaimer - TGD

Background
I am a rhetor. I explore subject matters deeply. I am pathologically curious and must think of how things work, or how they might connect. BUT, just because I entertain a thought, does not necessarily mean I believe in it.

Disclaimers matter, as they show that you understand the sensitivities of a subject matter, and are willing to frame your argument so as not to offend.

That said, with some subject matters that border on the extreme, such as with Godwin related arguments (Holocaust), one may end up writing more disclaimers than any positive material on what they want to advance, which makes the original argument get lost in the background.

If a person reading an author's text does so with the perspective of "the author is an ally, and I will assume the best possible intentions, trying to understand the arguments without preconceptions," then all these disclaimers would be redundant.

Example: The author is really a feminist and does not question rape or a woman's right to say no, s/he puts forward arguments to discuss medical processes related to rape, which are difficult to discuss due to sensitivities involved with the subject.

Authors in return must be able to discuss views and how they affect the whole, in full, or they would lose their moral right to use the TGD disclaimer, and practically, have their TGD score reduced.

The Gadi Disclaimer, or TGD, would mean that you as a reader understand the writing to follow is written as:

1. A dispassionate view, a passionate view, a critical view, or an opinion on a subject matter

2. Possibly, an opinion on a sub-category of a subject matter, discussing only that sub-category and not the whole (Hilter's economic policy, not Hilter).

You also acknowledge that:

1. The author does not necessarily hold these views, or that he/she are deeply aware of the potential sensitivity of the subject matter (such as the Holocaust or Rape)/

2. By reading a text with a TGD tag you will read the text as if it was written with all the possible disclaimers framing it correctly, assuming the best. Short and to the point gets the job done, 200 lines of disclaimers over 20 lines of text, confuses matters.

3. By reading the text you understand that your sensitivities may be hurt, without the fault of the author.

An author can not hide behind the TGD tag if they do not:
1. Offer logically valid arguments (without logical fallacies or unbacked statements which are not flagged as such).

2. Are willing to answer any and all questions related to their text in full, or reference where they've been answered. Authors are exempts from answering arguments which are baseless statements or are a logical fallacy more than once, pointing this out.

על היותי אדם רטורי - השופט והאונס
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לפני הכל, אשאל:
אפשר בבקשה להעמיד את השופט הזה לדין? היש דרך לעשות זאת?

שנית אומר:
אם אתם רגישים לנושא, אשמח אם לא תקראו את הבלוג הזה, כי הוא בנוי כטיעון ולוגי ואני לא רוצה לפגוע באנשים.

אחרי שהגבתי מיידית ב"איזה מטומטם" על השופט שאמר ש"יש בנות שנהנות מאונס", ואז המשכתי יום שלם בלהגיד לכל מי שאני פוגש "איזה מטומטם הוא, הא?", עצרתי לחשוב. כזה אני. אני אדם רטורי וחייב להבין ולמצוא טיעונים הגיוניים.

כך הם חיי האדם הרטורי. אנחנו יכולים לחשוב על משהו בלי שהוא ייצג את הדעה שלנו.

אצלי זו פתולוגיה. אני חייב לנסות ולחשוב על זה, אפילו אם רק כדי להגיד "יופי, הצלחתי וזה עדיין מטומטם," אבל חשוב מכך "הצלחתי ועכשיו אני מבין את הנושא טוב יותר, יודע שאני צודק מסיבות אמיתיות ולא רק תגובה ראשונית על בסיס אמונה, ויודע גם איך לסתור את הטיעון".

האם קיים מצב כלשהו עלי אדמות שבו נשים נהנות מאונס? לא. אבל האם קיים טיעון כלשהו שהגיונית יציג את האמרה הזו כנכונה? טיעון כלשהו שיכול לגבות את האמרה בין אם היא נכונה או לא??

ההקשר המיידי שקפץ לי לראש הוא העדפות מיניות, עם נשים שרוצות לחוות "פנטזיית אונס" במעין סימולציה. טיעון זה נפסל דיי מהר מאחר וזה (1) לא אונס (2) לא אונס (3) לא אונס. אונס בניגוד לבחירה בנוגע לאיך להתמודד עם העדפות מיניות, הוא לא מרצון - משמע, פנטזיית אונס שבה אשה בוחרת לשים את עצמה בסימולציה של אבדן שליטה היא בחירה. אונס הוא לא בחירה.

האם ייתכן שיש אשה שנהנתה מאונס? כן. קשה לי לראות איך, אבל כן, זה אפשרי. בדיוק כמו להגיד שיש אנשים שנהנו מלהרצח - זה אפשרי. להגיד דבר כזה זה פשוט מטומטם ברמות אחרות גם כי תאבד את העבודה שלך, גם כי פגעת בקרבן, אבל בעיקר כי זה פשוט לא מחובר למציאות גם אם היתה אחת (או היה אחד) מה-7 מיליארד אנשים שנהנתה מזה שלקחו ממנה את החופש שלה, התעללו בה, והשפילו אותה עד כלון.

ועכשיו כשסיימנו את התרגיל המחשבתי של "האם אפשר להראות שאונס הוא איכשהו חיובי," אני יכול לסכם רק בבקשה אחת:
אפשר בבקשה להעמיד את השופט הזה לדין? היש דרך לעשות זאת?

From architecture to dance choreography: visual influences and our subconscious mind
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Reading The Art of Making Dances by Doris Humphrey - mind blown.

Background to skim
I understand that it is a classic in the study of choreography, and treated with much respect, as well as with a smile, also considered "aged".

The book itself is a combination between the personal belief system of the author - making no claims of absolute truths, and the methods she believes need to be in place for the physical art of dance to grown brains.

She states dancers are very physical people who often frown at those trying to understand the mechanics and models of how things work, but she says it with a smile. ;)

What blew me away
For someone who has just started reading the book, what justified my opening statement of "mind blown" ?

A concept. In the third chapter she discusses how ideas for choreography are formed, and what inspires them. After some discussion which was not especially interesting to me, she says:
"From the point of view of visual influences, it seems to me that architecture, especially for those who live in the city, speaks to us and for us with the most insistent cry."
Consider the design of anything from buildings to your couch - most of the designs you'll find are made of straight lines and angles.

How does this affect you as a choreographer? As an audience?
What are you capable of thinking up? What can you accept when it is presented to you?

She goes on to discuss other examples, but that's the one that worked for her. I found this line of thinking absolutely fascinating, and wanted to share.

Gadi.

Almost there
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I have solid and well researched ideas and opinions on the food industry, as well as the ecology and the morality associated with Veganism. But while I am always (except on one occasion) happy to discuss the subject, analyzing the cult factor, the food industry, and other similar matters... I was uncomfortable with debating some of the core moral arguments on Veganism - as the arguments to support my stance, in my mind, were weak. I was happy to just accept, listen, and discuss where I feel comfortable.

Thanks to a few hours spent with my friend Imri Goldberg, hashing the issues from morality, humanism, and pain, to ecology, dominion, and life, including a quick-stop through economics, psychology, and history... I am finally reaching My Educated Opinion on the subject matter.

Imri and I differ significantly on some of the key issues, but the discussion was very useful.

As Imri said, when we encounter a situation where what we believe and what we know are at odds, we need a way to settle this cognitive dissonance. We can either discover information which will help us hold our current belief, or change it to reflect what we know.

I would like to do some more specific research and put my arguments and thoughts in order, but it seems that while I support some of the concepts behind Veganism, my way to achieve the end result is very different, and it will not include stopping to eat meat, nor convincing others to do so.

It's been a long journey reaching this conclusion, in a few weeks to months I will put my thinking down in writing.

Vegans are cool people, Veganism really really scares me
gevron
Being a Vegan is not about believing in lies, and it is not about telling lies. It is about a simple to understand hard to follow faith of how one would live morally, and maybe change the world for the better, reducing the suffering of animals - living beings. I adore Vegans and support them in staying the course.

Three of my favorite people in the world are Vegan, two of them just keep on with their regular lives, another takes a more active role in Veganism. If I could be Vegan, it seems likely I would be.

I so want to continue to be a Vegan supporter, but due to what I see Veganism becoming, I find it increasingly difficult. These are my quick scribbles about what disturbs me so much.

1. A cult
Veganism (not general Vegans, the movement as it is now becoming, in my view) is not about telling lies, or believing them. It is about making the lie your truth.

You'd twist facts, choose truths, and speak them as loudly as possible. You'd do this in a convincing fashion, pasture-like, use words like "thank you for choosing compassion" and "thank you for accepting the truth".

Instead of speaking on moral issues with absolute certainty of a believer, you'd also speak of ecology and of health as if your version is the one truth, period. That is simply not true.

You'd use logical fallacies, you'd make blue seem red.
You'd choose heroic figures who usually wear white and are very charming.

When there is one truth, it is a cult. No religion invented this day and age gets to be called a religion, unless you're Scientology.

2. Masses oriented
It is not about reaching people, it is about reaching as many people as possible.
This is a good way to make a change, I don't necessarily see a problem with this part. The problem is, many activists today confuse this with "by any means necessary".

3. Violent
Most Vegan activist operations (as I call them) fellow Vegans refer to as pranks, and smile. Chopped head, blood. Gore.

They make me run for dear life.

Supporters of a cause and/or haters of another will like it a bit when a competing sports team loses, or when someone you don't like gets fired.
This does not make them bad people or supporters of the action - it does mean however that the heroes most Vegans get to have are idiots. Veganism needs new heroes.

But how is invading public space with a chopped head of a cow, or posting something on Facebook where a child could see it over my shoulder, okay?

If they are hard extremists, they might say: Deal with it! Children should know the truth! You are just blind and finding excuses! If flipped back at them with examples that affect their beliefs or their children, they are back on point attacking you - the marker of someone you shouldn't talk to.

They can't conceive why a dead head would disturb me more than meat that is already processed. I can spent a multitude on saying why I disagree, but that isn't for here.

Just like any religion and ideology, they live in a society, and unless the society is very much Vegan, they will not gain much by violence beyond convincing the convinced. They should read on how revolutions are achieved, or at least a bit about PR for crying out loud.

4. It's about the masses
In PR, as well as in its older name, propaganda, it's not about "as long as they talk about you," it's about "what is the idea that comes to mind when they think about you." Ask any Child Rapist and see that this PR truism is false.

More importantly, it is violent because it won't let go of my personal life. My personal space is my own, and if you keep violating it, I will not only grow to really dislike you, but also at best close the door in your face.

Ask Jahova's Witnesses in the States. No idea about their conversion rates, but this trick of theirs has made them a national joke, or trope, to be mentioned on TV shows. It's the only thing I know about them unless I search for them specifically.

In summary
They are acting like a cult and believe the law is okay to break.
Them people are Veganists rather than Vegans. Vegans I like.
If I could be a Vegan, I'd stay the hell away from any Veganists, or go in fighting, fighting for what I believe in to be true, as lies tend break down and heroes in white to somehow get arrested.

Don't sweat the small stuff?
gevron
"Don't sweat the small stuff" is one of the most annoying of the self help advice out there. When the small stuff is all you've got, it becomes big - for good and for bad. The right advice would be - get more in your life, and, take time for perspective. Plus, I'm a sensitive guy, I care about the small stuff. It's how I make sure it's the right small stuff which I should care about that matters.

That said, I'll contradict myself, and mean it. :)
Don't swear the small stuff is a strategy that makes for a happier life, even if it trivialises your life.

Woman's day: Trapped by language. :)
gevron
I posted an image on my Facebook page. I am an hard core feminist activist (in my own way, explaining would require a different post) but I do appreciate the odd joke here and there about anything. Much the same, if I see something in some thing, which speaks to me, even if the thing itself is not necessarily something I would support as a whole, I often share it and explain what I see in it.

Today was Woman's Day, and while some celebrated and some didn't, I did see something which caught my eye.



Leaving the matter of objectification and other discussions aside, a friend who I appreciate caught me with my pants down. He commented on my post:

Nothing says "I respect women" like reiterating exactly what kind of body we approve of.

My friend, Leor Sapir, is very bright. And I enjoyed how he trapped me. The problem with the statement was that if I try to disagree with the second part of it, it seems like I also disagree with part number 1, meaning I disrespect women. That's an interesting trap if I've ever seen one - which one oftren encounters in feminist discussions where a man is involved.

There are many streams to feminism, and many ways in which to interpret and look at even just language in society. But as a man, speaking on it your ethos is often immediately reduced to shreds if you disagree with a woman. This isn't one of those cases, but it was interesting.

Some of the woman's day memes I liked:






$%#^ off - The English language, American corporate culture, and honest politics
gevron
Something I learned from American corporate culture back in 2006: How to answer somebody in a real, considered, fully appreciative language - and mean it honestly, while due to their original hostile message they will either appreciate my response as their message was unintentionally abrasive, or if they meant to be rude, think I told them to %#^& off - which at this point I would have been, but avoided saying thus being the better person and keeping the higher ground.

This is both highly satisfying, as well as by their next response will show me what their true intentions are. I don't often play politics as it doesn't fit my character, but when I do I make it fun, and keep it honest.

Honestly? I'd prefer to avoid even this, and just not answer and avoid conflict when there is no way of achieving a positive result, but it does make me feel better when I have to do something (such as because it was public) to do it right.

Language is such a lovely tool of the modern world, and to think back in 2006 I was too Israeli (hopelessly direct) and inexperienced with corporate communication across cultural barriers to just translate what is told me in 10 sentences into the "$%@$ off" they meant, and answer with these two words rather than spending my time appreciating the English language's ability for me to show them up, or to give them a way out, assuming in an optimistic fashion that they mean well.

Am I all grown up now? :)

The Path of Mastery
gevron
Recently I've read a book on Mastery, which mostly concentrated on trying to ascertain what Mastery is, and how it is achieved - or missed, in martial arts and sports. It was an absolutely fascinating read.

Speaking from experience "this is what I've noticed" and others' experience "this is what I hear from others" the author lays down a foundation for how leading martial artists and professional athletes reached where they are, and believe that training for Mastery should look like. This is more of an opinion piece than a scientific study.

From where and why people give up along the way, to the common path most of these professionals followed.

Two examples:
- People often give up at the off-set. Usually this comes in one of three stages; When the original learning curve is over and things become hard, when they hit the a plateau in their progress, or when they have a drop in ability just before the next major jump.

- While putting time into it is critical, the path of Mastery takes more then time or effort - it takes effort over time. Thus, over-doing it may be just as negative as under-doing it.

Another aspect of the book is what the author calls "the war on Mastery", where he demonstrates that in today's society we are used to, and are indeed programmed to, seek the "quick fix", and the very concept of investing for the long-term being ridiculous.

It's a short book from the 1980s, freely available online. You don't have to read it all - but it will help you with perspective.

http://www.amazon.com/Mastery-Keys-Success-Long-Term-Fulfillment/dp/0452267560

Gadi Evron,
ge@linuxbox.org.

Gadi Comixed: A do-it-yourself meme
gevron
Asaf Sagi and Yoni Rozenshein decided to create a new meme: Comic strips of me. They took some embarrassing screenshots from an interview of mine on TV, added captions, and the results were absolutely hilarious!

You can check the comic strips made so far, here (careful not to spill coffee on your keyboard! This is funny):
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=325027&id=552210311&l=674dcbbeb9

Example:


But wait, there's more!

This was such a success, that Asaf created a package of pictures which could be used by anyone to create more of these, which is downloadable in a zip file, from here:
http://www.chupa660.com/files/gadi.zip

If that was not enough - another friend of mine, Nir, decided that creating these strips needs to be more accessible, so he created a (Python) software "package" for it. :)

Automatic Gadi Comix Maker (Python):
http://rapidshare.com/files/446600288/gadi_comix_no_prerequesites.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/446600289/gadi_comix.rar

While this is not the first time people make comic strips about me, these are just fun! I am almost afraid to see what folks will do with these, next! ;)

P.S.
The original interview can be found here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6cKlKAFVI0

P.S. 2:
An example of an older, drawn, comic strip of me can be found at Encyclopedia Dramatica (careful R-rated), here:
http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Gadi_Evron

Gadi Evron.

The Wing Man Diaries: Running Disturbance By Hitting On A Guy
gevron
[Note: This article was written with a bit of a sinister tone, and what happened was good natured and in good fun. But I like it this way. ;) ]

What a great night!

My evening started rather low, as I went to a Salsa event organized by a friend, and to say I didn't enjoy myself would be an under-statement. Running off, I went to a friend's old apartment where the new tenants were having a BBQ. Unleashing myself only a slight bit, we hit it off and had a ton of laughs! We discussed everything from Facebook statuses to how many layers are needed to accomplish decent black nail polish.

Feeling good once more, a few of us went to a dance bar next door. Soon Hip Hop started playing and good time was to be had all around us... except for right behind us.

A girl (reference term for a woman of any age in Israel) was being hit on by a guy, and another guy, obviously a friend of hers, was hovering around, looking lost.

In Israel, it is common to see girls being hit on, while their girlfriend hangs around aimlessly, feeling low. If I was "that kind of guy", hitting on the girlfriend at this point would have been "like taking candy from a baby" -- I'm not that kind of guy. However, the situation was analogous. The lost guy just hovered, and I felt sorry for him.

Analyzing the situation with my friends is part of my fun going out, we were incredulous to see that as yet another guy hit on her, her lost guy friend was once again hovering, and lost, and quietly begging for attention.

I was curious as to the exact nature of their relationship. Once in a while the girl would suddenly give him some touchy-feely attention, but it felt fake to me. As in doing the least to keep him around rather than if he was her boyfriend returning to him after having fun with flirting, as a possible alternate explanation. But to be fair and optimistic, perhaps he was her brother or someone she was obligated to try and entertain... while going out and trying to have fun. Or maybe she was just friendly but not a good friend. *shrug*

I was in a very good mood, so I made a bet with my friends (over nothing) and went to hit on him. :P


("But I'm not Gay!", here is one without video but better sound quality).

I talked a bit to the guy, who was depressed and not too interested in talking to me. I was "sure" I knew him from somewhere, and to keep him talking I kept "making" as if to go and then ask another question, pretty much over my shoulder.

When I got back to my friends, another friend was fired up to going and hitting on that same guy again -- with the same words I used. From now on we will call the the girl's guy friend Loser (sorry if you find this offensive, it's true). After amusing ourselves with this, we went to the bar. My friend who we'll call Joe (who has a girlfriend, who was out with us) sat next to the girl, while I, next to him, was engaging the bar tender trying to get a couple of Diet Cokes (Light Cola to you Europeans).

Joe hit up a conversation with the girl, and was pretty successful. Just as Loser was about to interrupt, I started asking him where I know him from again -- no gay vibe what-so-ever. Rinse and repeat whenever he'd try to interrupt. Loser went for a walk, and immediately yet another guy sat down and with no shame tried to disturb my friend and the girl (who were in a huddle) and hit on her.

So... I asked Rude Guy where I know him from. :) Rinse and repeat whenever he was about to do it again.

Joe left and another friend of mine (with no girlfriend), who we'll call Mike, sat down and hit up a conversation with her (maybe Joe set it up?), while I still ran disturbance with the annoying guy sitting next to her and trying to hit on her while she is in deep conversation with Mike.

At this point I ran disturbance for the last time -- hey, at some point the girl's gotta make a choice. :)

Leaving to dance with my friends, Mike joined us shortly. We had some fun dancing and in a stroke of genius by my Joe (my friend with the girlfriend), we asked Loser to come dance with us. Worst case -- we can help him out a bit. But the best case happened.

First though, we had to convince him. So in between Mike and me urging him, I signaled to a different girlfriend of ours (we'll call her Jill) and she waved him to her on the other side of our dancing circle. He took one careful step, and just like leading in dancing, I helped him along from the back. :o)

Naturally, shortly after, the girl (who from now on shall be known as The Girl) came along and joined us. Mike talked to her, until I pulled him away after a couple of minutes so she doesn't start snubbing him (I saw the signs). At which point, I asked Joe's girlfriend, who is a very beautiful woman herself and we will call her Jane, to go to Mike (the one who tried to hit on The Girl) and give him a kiss on the cheek.

She did a bit more than that, and wonder of wonders, The Girl started looking at my friend all the time while we kept him busy.

Joe made another smart comment at this stage, which was advice to Mike to "take it slow", and not hit on The Girl in the Israeli fashion (brute force), as she's European. They had a nice chat, though. Getting to know each other.

There was another guy in the picture, we'll call him Bubba. He hovered around us and tried to hit up a conversation with Loser, probably to befriend him so he can get to The Girl. My guess is that this other guy went to one of the Pick Up Artist courses and failed miserably. How could he fail to read the anthropological situation so badly?

I took the time to help Loser with his dancing. He moved in place with his hands in his pockets... so I drew a Window between his shoulders and stomach and told him that if his hands go above it, he's a weirdo, if below it, he's sad. Hey, I played gay already to be a good wing man, what's a tad bit of coaching to help the guy?

At the end of the night, my friend took The Girl's number, and I was awfully pleased with myself.

I am usually much more considerate of guys like Loser, so I felt a bit bad about enjoying making fun of him at first with my friends (we're just discussing her behavior, but still), which does not represent me (before I decided to help him). I see myself in certain past situations when I look at guys like him. But I suppose there was no harm in helping to set my friend up (Mike did most of the work himself), and have a bit of fun while I'm at it.

I'm a very good wing man, and I like to read social situations. At some point, reading is just not enough though. :P

Be good wing men, or wing women, and help set up your friends! That, and try to help guys such as Loser when at all possible.

A girlfriend of mine calls my evil genius Machiavellian. I don't think I was evil (even if a genius) or that my directing of the social situation was manipulation -- I see it more as good communication and having fun. But hey, maybe she meant it as a compliment.

I later found out The Girl is a [computer] programmer. If I'd known I'd have told Mike "may the best man win". Maybe that's why he didn't tell me. :)
...Although I certainly didn't appreciate her behavior toward her friend.

Note: This article was written with a bit of a sinister tone, and what happened was good natured and in good fun. But I like it this way. ;)

Here are some articles I wrote on similar experiences I had:
I'm interested, but in you
Snap! Jazz music and mass hypnosis
WTF! Or, wow, this never happened to me before!
Personal Story, Tactical Communication and Conversation Manipulation

Gadi Evron,
ge@linuxbox.org.

Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/gadievron

Vizzini on The Daily Show
gevron
Wallace Shawn, famous (to me) for his role as Vizzini in the marvelous movie The Princess Bride made a guest appearance on The Daily Show as Jon Stewart's therapist, Alan Rubin.

Check it out:


This made my day. ;)

Gadi Evron,
ge@linuxbox.org.

Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/gadievron

Personal Story, Tactical Communication and Conversation Manipulation
gevron
Going back home from meeting friends for a beer, I was excited. It's not often that I encounter something cool to do which also appeals to my youth's old tactical nature. When I do, I jump it! This is a story of how someone tried to manipulate me, and how I countered.

The two friends with me discussed a fascinating topic I didn't even know existed, and simply because I saw that I could do so, I decided to bring this topic to a larger audience, creating a mini-conference on the subject.

First on my list was to find a location, so I sent an email to a local academic who could be a good partner for this, and called a couple of other friends to get them on board, arranged for speakers, PR and other necessities.

The next day I received an answer with a phone number, and within a few hours had the academic in question on my cell phone. He asked me to call his land line, and I did. Our conversation was very easy-going and friendly in tone. Smiles splattered on our faces.

I told him I am excited to speak with him, as he obviously has more experience on this particular subject. I was differential as academic ego demands, showing him the respect he deserves, but in tone -- I remained an equal.

I made my case, and he cut in, asking "Can you explain what you have in mind? We ran a conference on this four years ago. Do you have something new to warrant an event?"

"No," I answered honestly in an interrupt of my own. He apparently didn't expect that, so I asked to continue my pitch, and then did.

A lot changed in the last four years, and even if not, in a university environment four years ia an eternity -- with many new students who would appreciate this event. I had better arguments than these, and as my purpose was cooperation rather than confrontation, I preferred to move on.

I explained how this topic is exciting, how it has direct impact on both higher education as well as real implications for daily life, governance, and the economy. I used two anecdotal examples to illustrate this, and my excitement probably dripped all over him, even over the phone.

"Well," he responded, "let me tell you about an idea I had."

DING DING DING DING DING
Warning bells sounded in my head. "Happily, what's your idea?

He told me about an event he thought of, which sounded interesting. As he spoke I got about three ideas running in my head on the subject, but I listened quietly. "I would like to work with you, and if you can take some time to think of ideas for what we can do at this event, I'd appreciate us talking about them."

Stay on message

"Of course," I said, "I'd be more than happy to." And I was. "However", I continued with the same breath, "this conversation is about the first idea, so while I'd definitely like to discuss this with you further later, let's stick to the first one for now."

"Alright." he said, and we discussed a bit further, at which point he said "well, last year we ran a small event on this topic, and there was real innovation there which we could showcase. What will be new here?"

I explained a bit more on why I am excited, and why the topic is relevant, and how such an event can be beneficial. Then I decided to change tactics to show my resolve.

Stay on message, clarify position

"As you know, I am a security professional."

"Yes, that is where I know you from. Security, Internet, Cyber Warfare... Why does this subject interest you?"

"Truth be told," I happily jumped in, "I am excited. I learned to be a strategic person, but at heart, I am a tactical person, energized by excitement. I am excited about this topic, and I am willing to put the time into making this event happen. I will make it happen, but as I know of your vast expertise, I decided I must approach you first."

After more deliberation he asked me "What do you think of my event idea? I'd appreciate your opinion on ideas for it, and we can get back together on this after you think about it."

DING DING DING DING DING
Alarm bells rang again.

"I already thought about it, and have three ideas so far."

"Oh, great! What are your ideas?"

I shared two, as my short-term memory had already erased the third. I told him as much, and I think he believed me, but it could be seen as a lure or a trick. We were extremely friendly. He asked me to email him the third one if I remember it. I promised to do so.

Stay on message

"I'd like however, to finish our discussion of my idea for now, as there is a time constraint."

When he heard I want to get it done within a month rather than a year, he was shocked. I told him how excited I am about the specific speakers I want to bring, and how one of them is leaving the country to join his new wife, and he is a major source of my energy for this. I mentioned how I understand if his events schedule is already closed for the coming year, but wanted to make sure and contact him first.

It wasn't my intention to go cold on him or play "girl negotiation" by appearing not interested, but rather to give him way out. But whether it was my excitement or the "girl tactic", or even the ego massage, it seemed to work.

He got excited about this speaker as well, and asked about getting him on video before he leaves. Then....

BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG

A trick I've never seen before, which unlike the ones used up to now, is purely manipulative from whatever perspective you may look at it.

"How about we both take a couple of days to think of our two ideas, then get back together and pick one?"

This is wrong on so many levels. To begin with, his idea is not on the agenda. Second, he assumes I am willing to give up on my idea. Third, he assumes it's one or the other, this is a false choice logical fallacy.

More importantly, with this trick he can potentially achieve four immediately obvious things. First, wipe the slate clean to run his arguments by me again. Second, put distance between the chats so that I have time to move from my strong position, and consider his, perhaps feeling uncomfortable turning him down again. Third, it puts the subject on the agenda. And fourth, potentially try to wear me down, as most people won't call again in two days, or in two months.

I didn't miss a beat.

"I would be happy to discuss your idea separately, it sounds very interesting and I'd be happy to work with you on it. However, my resources are limited and at this time I am only interested in working on this one."

I added my winning argument: "I believe that I can get very good PR coverage for this mini-event, and get cooperation with Famous-Non-Profit which will also be happy to cover a part of the costs."

He lighted up at the mention of PR. We spoke for a bit and he asked me for a few days to speak with his boss. A few days when I have only a month to get things going are critical, so I wasn't happy about it. But the request was reasonable. He threw the ball into my court though, so when I got off the phone, I sent him an email.

I detailed five good ideas for his event, mentioned I was happy to talk with him, and was looking forward to hear from him soon. I also attached my phone number.

As I said when I started this post, he really is a good guy, and very friendly. But he is also a politician. He is an expert communicator who interviewed people live for a decade as a journalist. So while I dislike manipulative behavior I recognize that for some, such behavior is more than acceptable. In fact, it is regular m.o. and needs to be expected as part of the game.

Thing is, even just a few years ago I would have gotten stuck after his first interrupt, and either ended up working on his event without realizing it -- or by being too friendly. Worse still, I could have mishandled the communication in a potentially offensive fashion. Some years ago more, and I wouldn't have been able to play the game, and would have taken offense.

Being able to switch gears into "I'm being manipulated", think fast on my feet with my responses, and keep the conversation on track for my purposes (also the stated agenda of the call) -- all while keeping the rapport going without losing one heart beat, got me very excited. The content of the call was suddenly secondary.

While I am extremely straight-forward and honest in my communication style to a point of bluntness, I am a work in progress and am always learning. And I must admit, when two professionals meet, the conversation is happening on a completely different level. I am just surprised he didn't read through me that I was on to every single trick, when I was able to deflect them all. Or maybe he did and kept throwing them at me anyway to try and outwit me?

The cynic in me may in retrospect reconsider the first thing he ever said to me, to call him back on land line, as a manipulative gesture to get me in a compliant mood. But that would be too paranoid -- wouldn't it?

There are a few issues to consider about this encounter:

1. What was his motive? Perhaps he confused me for a hungry young hot shot, and wanted to use my excitement for his own ends. Perhaps a clear-cut switch-a-roo to get me to work on his event, "stealing" me from mine. Thus, bringing the conversation to where he wants it.

Then again, maybe he was just trying to end the conversation non-confrontationally.

2. His main tricks, in order were: change subject, switch-a-roo, get back together in 2 days.

3. What can you do to counter such tricks? After all, you may not always have a quick wit about you, or know the specific tricks.

The answer is similar to holding your own in politics: Stay on message. Know what your message is and stick to it. Others may try to confuse you, throw you off, and introduce a red-herring such as sending it for discussion in committee. Stay on message.

4. More importantly, the conversation made it clear it is quite possible he has no political power on this front, and thus can't give me what I want anyway.

Which brings us to...

5. What is your goal?
I kept going as I wanted to convince him, and after a fashion, I did get the best possible alternative result. But why keep at it if it won't achieve my goal?

Two tricks such as he used can be excuses as part of natural discussion, at the third, why keep at it? By this time it is clear to both sides what's going on and no positive result can come out of it.

More importantly, my purpose is to achieve a goal, and if I am not going to, why stay on a call that is probably uncomfortable for at least one of the sides, and as sure as the sky is blue, wastes my time?

If my purpose is not adversarial, why treat the situation as a battle? Cooperative discussion is a much better approach. As no cooperation was likely to happen, keeping the discussion going was pointless.

In summary, it didn't work out. But you should not get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for the guy. But it was one of the more fascinating five minutes in my life these past few months.

Here are some articles I wrote on similar experiences I had:
I'm interested, but in you
Snap! Jazz music and mass hypnosis
WTF! Or, wow, this never happened to me before!

Gadi Evron,
ge@linuxbox.org.

Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/gadievron

Using Lasers to Zap Mosquitoes
gevron
I am unsure how many times my friends and i sat over beer to discuss the prospect of a laser counter-Mosquitoes system.

Radar, movement detection in video, or infrared? How about accuracy? Would a flame-thrower work better than a laser beam?

How do we make sure we don't get hit? Limit the voltage, or make the system ignore us?

What is the reliability of the system then going to be? What if someone knocks on the door and the alignment gets scwewey?

Going out of the garage and advancing from the beer frontier, the New York Times wrote a story on this today, reporting from the TED2010 conference.
Can consumer electronics be used to combat malaria?

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft’s former chief technology officer, thinks so. His company, Intellectual Ventures, has assembled commonly available technology — parts used in printers, digital cameras and projectors — to make rapid lasers to shoot down mosquitoes in mid-flight. If bed nets are the low-tech solution to combat the deadly disease — caused by a parasite transmitted when certain mosquitoes bite people — the laser is a high-tech one.
But that's not the coolest part, they can target females alone:
The laser detection is so precise that it can specify the species, and even the gender, of the mosquito being targeted. “The women are bigger. They beat at a lower frequencies,” Mr. Myhrvold said. Since it is only the female mosquitoes who bite humans, for the sake of efficiency, his system would leave the males alone.
More here:
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/12/using-lasers-to-zap-mosquitoes/

Gadi Evron,
ge@linuxbox.org.

Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/gadievron

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