Sunday, July 15, 2018

Updates on podcasts I download

I download lots of podcasts, see http://www.gocek.org/podcasts/ . Here are a few updates.

I struggled for a over a year to scrape the WNYC "New Sounds" home page until it finally stopped providing MP3s altogether. However, the "Soundcheck" podcast is related, so I am checking it out.

Taylor Strecker was the longtime host of the Sirius/XM satellite radio show, "Wake Up With Taylor", sponsored originally by Cosmopolitan Magazine, later just a daily radio show. I am not in the targeted demographic for this show, but I turned it on once in a while. This show was never offered as a podcast. The show was unceremoniously canceled by SXM at the end of 2017, but Taylor has started a podcast, "Taste of Taylor". The complete show is offered as a premium product, and excerpts are available at http://tasteoftaylor.libsyn.com/rss .

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston has provided MP3s for a fantastic, monthly, live chamber music series, but the last upload was in February, 2018. I am holding out hope. See https://www.gardnermuseum.org/experience/music .

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The importance of everything

I typically have claimed, "Everything is important, or nothing is important." For example, family separations at the Mexican border are important, and so are opioid addiction deaths, and so is the way the economy impacts my 401K. As this thought process goes, they're different and have different attributes, but in the grand scheme of the universe, a terrified Guatemalan kid is no more important than my salary. It's OK to protest family separations, but it's OK for me to worry about my retirement at the same time.

But, President Trump's behavior since his inauguration in 2017 has prompted me to reflect on this "importance of everything". It's not that I think the basis of American politics have changed all that much in the last couple years. Politicians beyond the local level spend more time raising money than legislating. At the state and federal levels, we live under an oligarchy, and it has been like that most of my life. Jimmy Carter is the only president since John Kennedy who pushed against elitism even a little, and he was run out of town because he didn't nuke Iran.

Prior to the Trump presidency, the oligarchic nature of the system was a rarely mentioned "elephant in the room". We weren't just avoiding discussions about racism and homelessness in America. We allowed politicians to get rich along with their donors so the rest of us didn't have to expose our own biases and hatreds. The one-percenters got away with elitism because most of the rest of us weren't really doing all that badly. Wars were overseas, the federal deficit doesn't actually seem to impact anything, Grandpa is still collecting his Social Security payments and a warming climate doesn't seem so bad to an upstate New Yorker.

But, oh that Donald J. Trump! He has told us, directly and indirectly, it's OK to be haters in broad daylight. He doesn't care about the terrified Central American kids, he doesn't care about incarcerated African Americans, he doesn't care about homeless veterans, he doesn't care about the human impact on our climate and he doesn't care if he starts a nuclear war. All he cares about is his own, personal well being. In order to get votes, he also convinced enough people in enough districts that's it's OK for them to care only about themselves. When DJT gives a pass to white nationalists, he gives a pass to everyone. We think we're freer  than ever, but we've simply been freed by Mr. Trump to admit we can hate everyone beyond our own driveways.

So, what's that got to do with the "importance of everything"? The most important thing, now, is to stop believing it's OK to be biased and hateful. We are individuals and we possess primal survival instincts, but we are also social creatures living in an increasingly globalized society. My well being depends on your well being. The path to reducing our biases and hatreds is to stop enabling our elitist politicians. It's not specifically about Trump. We should have put the screws to the Obamas, Clintons and Bushes. But, Trump is the clown who spilled the beans and didn't sweep them under the rug, so now, we need to put the screws to Trump. It's not OK for him to support the elitism of the system by convincing the rest of us we should hate some Muslim trying to immigrate. I don't need to welcome random homeless people into my living room, and it's OK to support national defense, but I need to tell politicians it's not OK to enrich themselves by funneling billions of unnecessary dollars to the military-industrial complex as people still suffer in America and around the world.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Women in tech, and cybersecurity comments

In the April, 2017 issue of Communications of the ACM, Valerie Barr notes, "Approximately 45% of women entering tech leave within five years while only 17% of men leave. Bringing more women into tech has not succeeded in changing the climate there...".
Women, mentor your female peers to encourage them to stick around. Men, be careful with your language and subconscious actions; don't use the word "girl" in a professional setting, and respect all of your colleagues equally.

In the same issue, John Arquilla (in a blog post) and a panel of experts (Brent Waters, Dan Boneh, Len Aldeman, and Patrick McDaniel) comment on cybersecurity. I paraphrase here.
The United States recently passed an omnibus bill to fund the government until September. President Trump gushed over substantial funding to "build our military". I say, we don't need more weapons or soldiers. We need the federal government as a whole, including the Department of Defense, to be outfitted with modern computers and software in order to improve our national security. The news is not all bad, but a serious attack on American networks could disrupt government, energy production, transportation (including food distribution) and more. If you're running old versions of Windows in support of your personal email server, you're at risk.

Americans pride themselves on a tradition of individualism and personal independence, but we're apoplectic over fake news and the use of our personal data. It's just not that difficult to identify suspicious news and to verify it. If you don't want your personal data disseminated, then don't post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and your personal blog. Take responsibility.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Vanity surfing and others with my name



In the course of vanity surfing, I found another person named "Gary Gocek". He is named as a co-author on some documents that found their way to the public web. I found his email address and sent him a note. No response.


I looked on Facebook and found another "Gary Gocek". I think the FB guy is the son of the co-author guy. The FB guy seems to be inactive on FB and has not responded to my friend requests.


Based on the way American and Polish and Turkish names work, it is likely that we are the only three people who have ever existed with the name "Gary Gocek", and we live within a couple hundred miles of each other. I'm just bummed out that the other two guys don't want to respond. I don't get it, really.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Julian and Joan

On the event of my mother's death, feel free to donate to my parents' preferred charities.


Julian Gocek died March 26, 2015. He was proud of his military service. See http://www.gocek.org/897/ . In his memory:


Army Emergency Relief
https://www.aerhq.org/
Attn: Donations
200 Stovall Street
Room 5S33
Alexandria, VA 22332-0600


Joan Gocek died March 2, 2017. She was proud of her whole family, including her granddaughter, an accomplished rider with the Cazenovia College equestrian team. In her memory:


Cazenovia College
http://www.cazenovia.edu/
Attn: Amy Sherrick-von Schiller
Box N
22 Sullivan Street
Cazenovia, NY 13035

Saturday, January 7, 2017

PEDs versus everything else



It's socially acceptable to change gender via surgeries and long-term hormone treatments.
It's socially acceptable to use marijuana to treat illnesses.
It's socially acceptable to follow the latest diet craze.
It's socially acceptable to get braces or eyeglasses or plastic surgery or tattoos or body piercings.
It's socially acceptable to alter your mood or your headache with drugs; indeed, 10% of American children take drugs for behavioral conditions such as ADHD.


And I think all the above are fine, under the proper supervision.


But God forbid a guy takes PEDs to hit more home runs. That would be cheating!



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Gevalia's just not that great






A couple members of my household swear by mail-order Gevalia coffee. After a recent visit from a moving van, there are several packages of Gevalia in the kitchen cupboard.

Normally, I purchase my coffee at Parkleigh in Rochester, NY, pictured above. But, I didn't want to let that supposedly premium Gevalia go to waste, so I found myself driving to work yesterday with a travel mug of that coffee.

It's a little unfair to compare the whole-bean product I buy at Parkleigh to the pre-ground Gevalia, but for what these coffees cost, they're susceptible to reviews. Plus, I use a cheap drip coffeemaker, frowned upon by most aficionados, but I make too much coffee each day to mess with a French press or whatever.

The word often used for Gevalia is "smooth", and that's appropriate, but so smooth that it's bland. It has a rather sweet taste, even though I drink it black. There's just not much to Gevalia coffee, and I don't recommend it. Shop local.