Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Georgia voting laws explained by Brits

BBC fact checking:

Georgia voting: Fact-checking claims about the new election law

Monday, March 08, 2021

Linux OS choices for beginners

Best Linux Distributions That are Most Suitable for Beginners
Brief: It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the list of Linux distributions available. In this article, we will mention the best Linux distros for beginners.

Let’s face it, Linux can pose an overwhelming complexity to new users. But then, it’s not Linux itself that brings this complexity. Rather, it’s the “newness” factor that causes this. Not getting nostalgic, but remembering my first time with Linux, I didn’t even know what to expect. I liked it. But it was an upstream swim for me initially.

Not knowing where to start can be a downer. Especially for someone who does not have the concept of something else running on their PC in place of Windows.

The first thing that confuses a newcomer is that Linux is not a single operating system. There are hundreds of Linux distributions. We have covered why there are so many Linux in detail, so I am not going to discuss it again.

Here are a few lists of Linux distributions based on different criteria:


They review 9 different distributions to choose from. See the full article for photos and screenshots, embedded links and more.


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Monday, February 01, 2021

Story telling patterns

These are the typical elements, or structure, of story telling:

The Story Spine: Pixar's 4th rule of storytelling
In 2012 Pixar Story Artist Emma Coats tweeted 22 storytelling tips using the hashtag #storybasics. The list circulated the internet for months gaining the popular title Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling. We reposted this list two weeks ago and the response has been phenomenal with thousands of likes, shares, comments and emails.

Since posting the story, a number of people have contacted us regarding rule number 4 on the list, also known as ‘The Story Spine’:

Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

Reports were that this tip did not originate with Pixar but instead with writer/director/teacher Brian McDonald. Intrigued, we contacted Brian to find out more. He replied as follows:

I should clear up that the story spine (Once upon a time…) is not mine. I think many people first learned it from me because of my books, classes and lectures I have given over the past dozen years or so. It did not originate with Pixar either. I looked for the origin of these steps when I was writing my book, but never found it and I say so in the book. It has been used in impov as an exercise where is where I first learned it. I know a guy looking for the origin, but he’s not having any luck either.**

Brian added that in the original story spine tweet a step was actually left out. The final step should be And ever since that day… As Brian says, the list ‘keeps getting copied with this missing step and it’s an important step.’

Brian, an award-winning filmmaker in his own right, has taught his story structure seminar at Pixar, Disney Feature Animation and Lucasfilm’s ILM. For readers wanting to know more about The Story Spine, the following article by Andy Goodman explores in further detail these 7 simple steps for building more engaging stories. [...]
Follow the link and read the whole thing, for a more detailed look with examples, and embedded links for further references.

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Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Girl From Ipanema is a far weirder song than you thought

I have always loved the song, it's so hauntingly beautiful. This video goes into a lot of detail that helps explain why.

It also explains why there are some versions of the song I don't like. It's more than just style. Some versions have key elements missing. The orginal early versions were more complex than most people realize.

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Thursday, December 03, 2020

The Lost Arts of Empathy and Conversation. We need to revive them, and not let the extremists among us dominate our political conversation.

From The Atlantic monthly:

How We Got Trump Voters to Change Their Mind
[...] Typically, when volunteers engage in a canvassing campaign, the effort basically amounts to verbal leafleting. They make a one- to two-minute targeted pitch for a candidate or a ballot initiative, and then they leave or hang up the phone.


In a deep canvass, we want to have a real conversation. To get people to open up, we start by asking the basics: How are you doing? How are you holding up in this global pandemic? We respond not with canned answers, but with more questions: Oh, you’re watching football? Who is your team? How is your family doing? We’re really asking, and we really listen. Eventually, a true back-and-forth begins, one where we exchange stories about our lives and what is at stake for ourselves and for our communities in this election. Usually, by the end, what emerges is some kind of internal conflict—why the person is frustrated, why she can’t decide who to vote for, or why she is skeptical of Biden.


Research has shown time and again that people vote from an emotional place. It’s not so much that facts don’t matter. It’s that facts and talking points do not change minds. And arguing opinions at the start of a conversation about politics causes the interview subject to keep his defensive, partisan walls up and prevents him from connecting with the canvasser.

We don't try to directly persuade people to change their minds on a candidate or an issue. Rather, we create intimacy, in the faith that people have an ability to reexamine their politics, and their long-term worldview, if given the right context. We’ve found that when people start to see the dissonance between what they believe and what they actually want, their views change—many of them come around to a more progressive perspective. For example, if a woman says she believes that immigrants are the main problem in our society, but reveals that her top personal concern is health care, then we talk about whether immigrants have anything to do with that worry. When a man says he wants to feel safe, we ask questions about what, in particular, makes him feel unsafe. If he answers COVID-19, then we talk about which candidate might be better suited to handle the pandemic.

Throughout our effort, I’ve been struck by how willing people are to be vulnerable with our canvassers. Amazingly, more than 85 percent of those we engage in an actual conversation have shared something with which they are deeply struggling. In these personal exchanges, we are embracing empathy for people who are sometimes wildly different from ourselves, and empathy, it turns out, is an extremely effective conversion tool.


Such discussions are not transformative just for the people on whose doors we’re knocking (or whose phones we’re on the other end of)—they are also transformative for the canvassers. In our podcast, To See Each Other, about rural communities that are often described as Trump country, our organizer Caitlin Homrich-Knieling shared her experience of having deep-canvass conversations about immigration in rural Michigan. We’re strangers, she said, “starting out with a blank slate, and in that conversation, we’re showing them so much care and empathy about their own hard times and asking so many questions about their own life. We really honor their story and their wisdom and their dignity.”

The connections she made while knocking on doors made her see that she was not bringing that same spirit—of listening and radical empathy—to her relationships back home, in the state’s upper peninsula, where she and family and friends didn’t always see eye to eye. That realization has changed her relationship with her mother, her aunt, and her childhood best friend. Now, when they talk about politics, race in America, or immigration, they approach their talks with a willingness to learn and listen.

Overall, our conversations have not modeled the broader narrative of division that this election tells. They show that on the individual level, we all want to understand one another—how we have come to see the world, what we are up against—and we all want to be heard. [...]

I really liked the part where the canvasser realized that if she can find empathy with strangers she disagrees with politically, then why can't she, why isn't she doing that, with friends and family? Can't we ALL be doing that more?

The art of conversation requires the ability to listen. It seems to be a lost art. Perhaps it's time to revive it? The full article gives examples of what it's talking about, and has embedded links. It's worth reading the whole thing.

I don't strictly belive in either the Republican Party or the Democrat Party; they are both flawed and imperfect, and anyway are supposed to be political vehicles for people to use to form alliances around, not ideologies in and of themselves. I do believe in our two-party system, and the balance of power. When either party becomes too powerful, we tend to get their lunatic fringe and worst ideas trying to rule everything.

The current polarity in our politics, has eliminated conversation. Too often, it's like one side is wanting to destroy the other. It's insane, to vilify one half of the country's population. I live in a rural area that is very conservative, and have a business in town, where the politics are more liberal. Politically they are worlds apart. But I live in both of them. I have friends in both, and have to function in both. I don't attack people in either, and I don't want to see one destroying the other.

In a civilized world, people can agree to disagree, and work together to find compromises based on concensus. If we can't get back to that, I fear we will not survive. Nor will we deserve to.

A house divided against itself cannot stand. Nature does not favor the weak. We have enemies, who would like to see BOTH sides destroyed. What is it going to take, to wake us up, before it's too late?


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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Jordan Peterson, on Liberals and Conservatives

And why we need them both:

Jordan Peterson (Trump vs Biden 2020 Election)
A plane needs both a left wing and a right wing to fly.  Sometimes, to fly without crashing, it needs to lean more to the left, or more to the right.

It's insanity for one side in our political system to try to destroy the other.   Vilifying half the people in the country, will solve nothing.  A house divided against itself, cannot stand.  We, as a nation, need to straighen up and fly right.   We need to find common ground, and work together to solve our problems.

Or we will crash and burn. 

 The Root of Our Partisan Divide

Christopher Caldwell gets it right, in this analysis.  It's what has polarized our politics so severely.  Unfortunately, he doesn't have a solution.   I don't know that anyone does.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Oregon voted to stop Daylight Savings Time. Yet we fell back anyway. Here's why.

Didn't Oregon do away with daylight saving time? Why you still have to 'fall back' Nov. 3
[...] Oregon lawmakers said the change takes effect the first November after both Washington and California adopt year-round daylight saving time. 
Washington lawmakers passed legislation to do so, and California voters cast ballots directing lawmakers there to do the same. But the bill stalled in the state senate; California lawmakers say they will revisit the issue in 2020. 
All three states also face one final hurdle: Congress needs to sign off on the deal. And while legislation has been introduced to allow the change, daylight saving time isn't at the top of the agenda in Washington, D.C., as an impeachment inquiry and the 2020 presidential election approach. 
So stay tuned: Oregon lawmakers built a 2029 deadline into the law, so there's time for the change to happen in coming years.
The folks in D.C., are more interested in fighting with eachother, than dealing with anything we care about.

And so it goes.