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Iskaral Pust

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  1. Iskaral Pust

    First Quarter 2019 Reading

    Finished The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz, a fictional detective novel with an unusual structure. The first person POV character and narrator is the author himself, with his actual name and a lot of real information from his life, including references to his past experience in writing TV detective series. He is supposedly participating in a crime investigation alongside a consulting detective (former police detective), who he quite dislikes (and is unlikable), in order to write a true crime book about it. Along the way the author muses about the difference in constructing a fictional crime novel compared to the unhelpful “reality” of true crime. Horowtiz is a good writer and the prose is written well, but the experiment with the structure and characterization doesn’t work well. I would not recommend. edit: I should note that this author likes meta deconstruction of the genre of crime/detective novels. In Magpie Murders he experimented with a structure where the first half is an Agatha Christie-esque village murder written by an author who then apparently committed suicide, and the second half is his editor investigating the author’s death after reading the “novel”. So he likes to play games with structure and loves to examine and deconstruct the norms/tropes of the genre, but this latest experiment fell flat.
  2. Trailer looks great. I keep saying I don’t like horror but I love this show.
  3. Iskaral Pust

    First Quarter 2019 Reading

    Finished Chariots Of The Gods by Erich Von Daniken, a non-fiction that speculates about ancient aliens seeding human civilization. While it is interesting how many ancient civilizations referred to gods visiting from the sky in chariots of fire, the book overall veers deeply into crank paranoia as it rages against the obtuse conventional thinking and then tries to knit together everything from the paranormal into this theory. It also shows a very thin understanding of genetics and DNA when it assumes these ancient aliens could easily indulge in inter-species cross-breeding. Next I finished The Tiger by Marc Alan Edelheit, #2 in his Roman military fantasy series. Still good: a fun military campaign in a slightly magical/fantasy alternate world. The names of the dwarf clans were laughably cliche (everything had axe or hammer in the name), but the actual characters were decently written. Then started but abandoned The Rescue by Steve Konkoly. Portrayed as the “new Jack Reacher”, it was just too boilerplate/cliche. I’m sure it will sell millions of copies at airports. (Jack Reacher stands out in that genre because they are just better written)
  4. I would prefer the Irish Leaving Cert/CAO points system because it is academic only, more objective, less prone to gaming (everyone does the same exam and there is no extra credit available for those with greater access), requires full comprehension at the end of the curriculum, and it does not put pressure on students to be perfect every single day throughout high school. American grades are based on every single homework, group project, quiz, mid term test, end of semester test, etc. It's not enough to develop your knowledge, do some revision/synthesis when the class is complete and then demonstrate the knowledge effectively at the end of the curriculum. American students getting an A in many subjects have to maintain incredible diligence and juggling every single day to never get a bad score on a single test/quiz/homework/project (which has a large gender bias, BTW), and this encourages them to do shallow rote memorization of each mini segment of the curriculum without ever demonstrating a capstone comprehension of it all. They do this simultaneously in several subjects and keep this juggling act going for years. It must be very unhealthy to their cognitive development. And then, after all of that work, it turns out that straight-A students are a dime a dozen now and you'll only get a spot in a top college if you fulfill all these additional intangibles that are largely outside your control, especially race and parentage. (The current system works best for wealthy legacy students and upper middle class black/latino students) OTOH, I know there is a campaign in Ireland to get rid of the existing final state exam and replace it with continuous assessment. The downside of the single final exam is that it moves all the pressure to that one day at the end of high school, which some students don't handle well. On balance, I would keep the single state exam across several subjects.
  5. Our son is only in middle school so we have not experienced it yet, but we listen with dread to the kind of anxiety other families put themselves through. Pretty much any high performing student from an upper middle class family is aware before the start of high school that they need to build their "resume" for college applications. This means: several AP classes, a GPA well above 4.0 (I believe they aim for over 4.5 now; for non-Americans a 4.0 is an A+, so extra points are sought through extra credit assignments), extremely high SAT/ACT scores, high athletic* and musical achievement, demonstrated leadership (so every teenage kid wants to be the president of some club/society/micro charity/etc), thousands of hours of volunteering and a personal narrative that distinguishes you from the hundreds of thousands of other highly accomplished students with identical "resumes". And even then it's a very long shot to get accepted into an elite college unless you are a non-Asian minority, a legacy (parent is an alumnus with strong track record of donations), a child of a famous or extremely wealthy parent (who is likely to donate in future), a recruited athlete/musician, or have a particularly compelling sob story about personal hardships survived and overcome. *but really you need high athletic achievement in the kind of sports favored by elite colleges, so lacrosse, fencing, sailing, tennis, golf are all better than plebeian alternatives. It sounds insane. These teenagers inside this hyper-competitive bubble live sleep-deprived, anxious lives as they check the boxes in a dutiful, meaningless way. Adderall abuse happens and learning disabilities are faked/over-diagnosed to get Adderall and special concessions during test taking. Kids have no time for friendships or any meaningful internal development -- they're too busy grinding through the list of requirements. So even aside from outright bribery and falsified athletic ability, lots of wealthy parents create charities for their kids to lead, or sponsor their Habitat For Humanity poverty tourism, or invest thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars in sports (playing, coaching, travel teams, development leagues, etc). Almost all of these kids end up disappointed. There are just too many bright, studious applicants after too few spots. And the spots at these elite universities are assigned according to the priorities of the university (future donations; keep the prestigious sports teams and orchestras well stocked) rather than the benefit of the students.
  6. Iskaral Pust

    Exercise and Fitness: bro science debunked

    tut, tut Chin-ups are not pull-ups. Keep trying the pull-ups. If you can do five chin-ups, then your progress will hit critical mass soon. No workout for me over the past weekend either. Still feeling under the weather from this lingering cold. Hopefully back to the gym later this week.
  7. Iskaral Pust

    Rugby: Building up to Japan

    Very well played by Wales today and a well-deserved grand slam. Very poor by Ireland though. They only played well in a single match (vs France) in the entire tournament and they now look out of any contention for the WC. They need to take a serious look at why their form dropped so much from a year ago. I hope they can turn it around.
  8. Iskaral Pust

    Careerchat III

    Yes, I have been brutally honest when I thought it was needed and wanted to generate some change. But I first decided that I was unlikely to face specific retaliation for doing so. Perhaps that would not be true at every company. Congratulations on your savings to finance your next chapter. Accumulating $50k after taxes during your 20's is no small achievement. @Triskele congratulations on positive progress. I don't know what comp expectations you should have, but it's always good to identify your own "reserve" price for stay/go.
  9. Iskaral Pust

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    Everyone who exercises, whether in a gym or in a sport, had that awkward and intimidating first day. And after that awkward first day, they kept going back for several awkward months until they gradually developed some fluency and stopped feeling so awkward. Most people who exercise have tried a lot more than just one form of exercise, and so they went through that awkward process several times. No-one should kid themselves that they are unique or special in facing that initial hurdle to try something new. Absolutely everyone experiences that. It's just part of the human condition -- we don't like to be at the bottom of any social ladder.
  10. Iskaral Pust

    Football: Bernaburned

    CL quarter final draw tomorrow. I’d really like Barcelona, Ajax or Porto. It’s boring to play against domestic rivals, and Juventus are too defensive as an opponent to offer an entertaining tie. We’ll probably get City or United though, and have a war of attrition over two exhausting legs.
  11. Iskaral Pust

    First Quarter 2019 Reading

    Finished The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen, a Scandinavian noir (even if Finland isn’t really Scandinavia). A good read. Not a detective story, but a regular guy finds out he is about to die from some prolonged exposure to a poison or toxin.
  12. @Fez that’s an interesting view. I never thought about whether that was a factor for our son. We read to him all the time as a baby, and by the time he was 18 months old he was highly engaged in several books that we read constantly. Apple Tree Farms was his favorite, followed by some of the Dr. Seuss classics. He knew those stories backwards and forwards, and followed our finger along the words without being able to read. We also did general alphabet familiarity, without yet attempting to turn it into reading. When he turned 4, we started teaching him to read at home with See Spot Run and Dick & Jane. He grasped it immediately and was so proud of himself. And his reading exploded from there. He read kids chapter books at age 5 and was reading the Harry Potter series at age 6 (I think; memory is hazy now on exact timing, but I think he got them for Christmas just after he turned 6). But I never thought that his “hieroglyphic” recognition of words in highly familiar books at age two was an accelerant to his alphabet reading at age four. The two seem cognitively unconnected, apart from creating the baseline appetite for reading and lowering of any anxiety about learning how to read.
  13. Iskaral Pust

    Football: Bernaburned

    I wondered about that too. Moreno hasn’t been near the first team in a very long time. But Milner was very poor in his recent stint at RB. I would guess that Klopp will stick with Milner, who he trusts. I just hope VVD can cover for him.
  14. Iskaral Pust

    Football: Bernaburned

    A big achievement to win away quite comfortably against a Bayern team very much in form lately. A bit brainless from Robertson to pick up that booking when the game was over as a competition (and, for a second time, he didn’t cover Gnabry well).
  15. Iskaral Pust

    NFL 2019 Super Bowl: the restless shade of Mike Martz

    Bears lose Amos (safety) to the Packers. While not as eye-catching as Jackson, he was part of a really solid secondary. Bloody vultures in Green Bay stripping players from a division rival. They tried it with Kyle Fuller last year too. But luckily for Amos, that made him worth $9m a year without any big statistics for interceptions. Most of his best work is in disciplined coverage rather than eye-catching takeaways. Bears pick up Patterson (WR and possible punt return and even RB) from the Patriots. Sounds like he could be an alternate/back-up to Tarik Cohen in the system. Rumored that Bears are picking up Mike Davis (RB, Seahawks), which presumably means Jordan Howard will be traded. He didn’t look a great fit for the Nagy offense last year (despite being great pre-Nagy) as his inside runs were a bit predictable, and he lacks dynamism to go outside or make sharp cuts. And his rookie contract is winding down. He’s a good player and will do well somewhere, but he doesn’t suit the new Bears well enough to merit them paying him his market pay after his rookie contract.