The beauty of imperfection: a portrait of human condition

With his sculpture series, Utopias, Santiago Lozano reminds us that our existence falls short of having the perfect geometry and crisp surfaces we all strive to achieve. In fact, his sculptures are a blunt, yet elegant expression of the human condition. A reminder that we are all born geometric figures, seemingly smooth and impollute; until life happens. And life, as it is, merciless, jocular, has marked our souls with bumps, bruises, and scratches; remnants of the hardship we have endured, the traumas that besieged us, the symptoms that make up our habits and neuroses.

Some people have tiny scratches, which are barely noticeable. Others carry larger bumps, which are difficult to conceal. Some others wear those bruises like a badge of honour; like evidence that they are alive; that they loved and hated, cried and laughed, became apart and got reunited.

No matter how unimportant or how consequential, how sinister or how adorable, those bumps, bruises and scratches are proof that we lived; that we didn’t just pass through life. Far from making us deformed and monstrous, those bumps, bruises and scratches actually make each and every one of us unique, interesting, beautiful.

In this this sense, Santiago’s Utopia is more than a homage and a critique of the modernist dream, as he claims. It is also a statement on the meaning of life and the significance of the viscissitudes that define us.

Lies, pseudoscience and “journalism” in Japan’s current nuclear situation

The current situation at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant is a serious matter; and having family in close proximity of it makes it even more serious to me. For this reason, I appreciate the onslaught of emails and phone calls that friends and acquaintances have sent me to express their solidarity. Thank you!

At the same time, I am appalled by the way western media has represented the situation, which has led some people to send me distraught missives about the “imminent” crisis and the lies of the Japanese government. Since I haven’t posted in a while, I seized opportunity to type some words about risk and science communication. Since this is going to be a little bit of a rant, I apologize to my regular readership (that handful of patient people) for having digressed a little, yet again.

Here is my rant:

Continue reading “Lies, pseudoscience and “journalism” in Japan’s current nuclear situation”

Be social in your own terms

Since this post is a digression in this blog, I think I need to explain myself to the regular readers. Last year, I wrote a software manual for an application called Gwibber. Although the guide was originally intended for a local community of users, the Ubuntu Vancouver LoCo, it was later decided that the manual be distributed worldwide. This post is a comment on my experience documenting Gwibber, and it is intended, for the most part, to the Ubuntu community around the world. If you want to know what Ubuntu is, click here. To check my teammate’s post, click here.

Continue reading “Be social in your own terms”

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2010. That’s about 3 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 14 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 19 posts. There were 25 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 5mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was July 7th with 102 views. The most popular post that day was Playboy model is defeating scientists in PR battle over vaccines.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were WordPress Dashboard, facebook.com, linkedin.com, meetup.com, and thedrunkdrivingmasses.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for rational decisions, cultural conflicts in vancouver, icon arrays, risk communication, and tak ishikawa.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Playboy model is defeating scientists in PR battle over vaccines July 2010
1 comment

2

BC Injury Prevention Conference: puzzles and answers November 2010
5 comments

3

About me July 2010

4

My boyfriend was not a selfish, treacherous bastard… he was just Japanese April 2009

5

Statistics are lies!? Damn not! August 2010
6 comments

BC Injury Prevention Conference: puzzles and answers

Last week, at the at the BC Injury Prevention Conference 2010, some presenters and attendants put forward interesting questions that manifest inconsistencies in people’s behaviour and perception of risk:

  • Why parents have their children wear bicycle helmets, but still refuse to use them?
  • Why more than 70% of Canadians think they drive better than others? Does this indicate that education campaigns have failed?1
  • Why gang related crime gets more police and media attention than road crashes, when the latter produces way more fatalities than the former?1

Continue reading “BC Injury Prevention Conference: puzzles and answers”

Risk taking is a matter of format

Risk-taking is often associated with the character of a person. However, researchers have demonstrated that this behaviour greatly depends on the way people are presented a decision problem: most people decide to take risks when they face choices with negative outcomes (injuries), and choose safer options when they face positive consequences (dancing in the prom). Consequently, road safety, health promotion and injury prevention campaigns should convey risks in positive terms, and avoid communicating negative outcomes.

Risk-taking is often associated with the character of a person: some individuals are considered risk-takers and are said to lead risk-taking lives1. However, researchers have demonstrated that this behaviour greatly depends on the way people are presented a decision problem2, 3, 4. Indeed, most people decide to take risks when they face choices with negative outcomes3, 4 such as diseases or injuries. Conversely, most individuals choose safer options when they face positive consequences3, 4 like “dancing in the prom” or “playing with my children”.

Continue reading “Risk taking is a matter of format”

Statistics are lies!? Damn not!

Mr. Goldstein’s belief that statistics are lies is largely fuelled by misconceptions about statistics and its role in decision making. Sadly, this kind of uninformed opinions had a lot to do with the absurd proposal to make Canada’s census voluntary.

I know this post is two weeks late and I am sorry about that. Still, better late than never.

This is a reply to Lorrie Goldstein’s column, “Stats, smoke and mirrors”, in which he rants about crime rates and Statistics Canada―the Canadian statistics agency. In my opinion, his diatribe is foolish, unfair and uninformed.

In an effort to be straightforward, this is what I will discuss:

  1. If decision makers don’t know how to use statistics, then they are the problem; don’t blame statistics for that.
  2. Mr. Goldstein’s “analysis” of crime rates is useless and superficial.

Continue reading “Statistics are lies!? Damn not!”