Alvin Alexander | Java, Scala, Unix, Perl, Mac OS X

There is a mistake technical and scientific people make. We think that if we have made a clever and thoughtful argument, based on data and smart analysis, then people will change their minds. This isn’t true. If you want to change people’s behavior you need to touch their hearts, not just win the argument. We call this the Oprah Winfrey Rule. (It’s also the way good politicians operate, but Oprah does it better than anyone.)

~ Google’s Oprah Winfrey Rule, from the book, How Google Works

For Lent this year I'm giving up.

“We talked because talking tells you things, like what you really are thinking about. But sometimes you can’t find what you’re feeling till all the words run out.”

~ Harry Chapin, Sequel

“Thoughts are not facts.”

~ A quote from a local psychologist on the radio.

It seems that people who worry, worry about thoughts, not reality. I remember worrying a few years ago about doing a dance at a wedding, and in the end the reality was that I never had the chance to dance. What a waste of time that worry was.

If you feel like digging through this Seeking Alpha article, you’ll find that EV auto sales in China were up to 3.3% in December. That’s well above the 1.2% in the U.S. and 1.9% in Europe. Another quote from that article: “China is likely to announce its internal combustion engine [ICE] ban plan date sometime in 2018. Then, by January 2019, the new China zero emission vehicle [ZEV] system will begin, boosting sales of longer range pure EVs.”

Here are a couple of good quotes from this article about the Golden State Warriors “truth teller” Ron Adams. First, about treating your work as your craft, and being a craftsman:

“I try to be an artisan,” he adds. “There is a purity to teaching as an assistant — a virtue in being a craftsman and having a craft. It’s the nuts-and-bolts stuff that appeals to me, and the relationships.

Then these quotes about telling the truth:

He learned something else. “On the farm, your rapport with your neighbor is critical,” Adams says. “There is a premium on honesty. You don’t fool people in that world.”

On the farm he learned to speak the truth — and to send the wine back. “My father, I remember him getting bales of hay,” he says, “and if it didn’t meet his standard, the response would be polite but firm: ‘This is good but not what I wanted.’”

“So the main takeaway of this discussion is to appreciate the idea of algebra-based design. An algebra is a combination of a set of types, a set of functions defined with them, and a set of laws that interrelate the functions.”

~ from the book, Functional and Reactive Domain Modeling

“Wrong eyes.”

~ What I told myself during a lucid dream on March 2, 2011. I was flying, and when things got dark as I flew higher I thought, “Open your eyes,” only to find myself staring at the bedroom ceiling while still dreaming.

I went through this several times when writing the Scala Cookbook and Functional Programming, Simplified. In the end I just tried to think of myself, and write a book that would have been helpful to me five years earlier. (Image from this Twitter page.)

The phobia every writer experiences

This image shows the symptoms of mast cell disease. I’ve had every one of those (except for that gynecological one). The image comes from The Mastocytosis Society website.

Update: I noticed that they missed a few things, including unusual/allergic reactions to medications and insect bites.

Symptoms of mast cell disease (image)

In honor of Rare Disease Day (February 28th), here’s  a story about a woman who has a more severe form of the illness/disease I have. A few quotes:

“Johanna Watkins, 30, is allergic to almost everything and everyone, including her husband Scott, 29. She’s been diagnosed with mast cell activation syndrome, a rare and progressive immunological condition.”

“She has a list of 15 foods she can eat and that’s it. Even those foods make her feel ill, it’s just that they don’t kill her. She’s eaten the same two meals for two years.”

Update: In 2016 Johanna wrote this article, What I’ve learned being isolated and allergic to everything.

(The image is from the story.)

Rare disease makes woman allergic to everything, including her husband

Lost in the recent announcement about JPMorgan Chase, Amazon, and Berkshire Hathaway combining forces to get into the employee insurance business is the fact that they are already self-insured employers. I read that in this Business Insider article, where I also read that 80% of large companies are already self-insured.

This short blog post contains a collection of Scala number and date examples. I created most of these in the process of writing the Scala Cookbook. Unlike the Cookbook, I don’t describe the examples here much at all, I just show the examples, mostly as a reference for myself (and anyone else that can benefit from them).

Scala numeric types

Scala has these numeric types:

Objective judgment, now at this very moment.
Unselfish action, now at this very moment.
Willing acceptance — now at this very moment — of all external events.
That’s all you need.

~ Marcus Aurelius (as seen in the book, The Obstacle is the Way)

The tv series Becker was one of my favorites back in the day, and I always wondered why it wasn’t available on DVD. I just looked, and it’s now available at Amazon, just released in 2018.

A favorite episode that helped me snap out of a personal funk was when Becker finally got to be with his long-lost love, a woman he pined for for many years. When he finally had a chance to reunite with her it turned out she was wild and crazy, ran up his credit card bill, then took off. In its own way, that episode helped me get over someone I felt the same way about.

Becker TV series now on DVD

If you’re into understanding business financial statements and/or interested in investing, I’ve been reading Warren Buffett and the Interpretation of Financial Statements for the last week or so, and I can confirm that it’s a good book for non-experts like me. With just a few exceptions, all of the terms you’ll encounter on income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements are explained simply and easily.

I was just reading a Seeking Alpha article about the pending healthcare deal between Berkshire-Hathaway, Amazon, and JPMorgan/Chase, and someone who added a comment referred to this image about the rising costs of healthcare in the United States, and how those costs correlate not to an increase in physicians, but to an increase in administrative overhead. (The image comes from this page.)

Why are U.S. healthcare costs so high?

I was just reading this Seeking Alpha article about Facebook and saw the attached image, where for a while “link sharing” on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest overtook search engines in terms of “share of website visits,” but in 2017 search engines once again overtook sharing. The question is, does this mean that fewer people are using those social websites, or fewer people are sharing and clicking on those links?

Website traffic: Search vs Share