Tag Archives: rest day read

Moral Machines

Rest Day Read (SR-46)
Moral Machines: Introduction

by Wendell Wallach and Collin Allen

“As noted, this book is not about the horrors of technology. Yes, the machines are coming. Yes, their existence will have unintended effects on human lives and welfare, not all of them good. But no, we do not believe that increasing reliance on autonomous systems will undermine people’s basic humanity. Neither, in our view, will advanced robots enslave or exterminate humanity, as in the best traditions of science fiction. Humans have always adapted to their technological products, and the benefits to people of having autonomous machines around them will most likely outweigh the costs.
However, this optimism does not come for free. It is not possible to just sit back and hope that things will turn out for the best. If humanity is to avoid the consequences of bad autonomous artificial agents, people must be prepared to think hard about what it will take to make such agents good.”

“Is it possible to build AMAs (Artificial Moral Agents)? Fully conscious artificial systems with complete human moral capacities may perhaps remain forever in the realm of science fiction. Nevertheless, we believe that more limited systems will soon be built. Such systems will have some capacity to evaluate the ethical ramifications of their actions—for example, whether they have no option but to violate a property right to protect a privacy right.The task of designing AMAs requires a serious look at ethical theory, which originates from a human-centered perspective. The values and concerns expressed in the world’s religious and philosophical traditions are not easily applied to machines. Rule-based ethical systems, for example the Ten Commandments or Asimov’s Three Laws for Robots, might appear somewhat easier to embed in a computer, but as Asimov’s many robot stories show, even three simple rules (later four) can give rise to many ethical dilemmas. Aristotle’s ethics emphasized character over rules: good actions flowed from good character, and the aim of a flourishing human being was to develop a virtuous character. It is, of course, hard enough for humans to develop their own virtues, let alone developing appropriate virtues for computers or robots. Facing the engineering challenge entailed in going from Aristotle to Asimov and beyond will require looking at the origins of human morality as viewed in the fields of evolution, learning and development, neuropsychology, and philosophy.”

Want to see a positive application of technology? Click here

I definitely want to read this book, Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong. Their fictitious scenario of the automation-triggered disaster of Monday July 23, 2012 is just plain scary. I love their mutli-discipline approach for establishing the ethical parameters for automated systems. Interesting dilemmas and interesting ideas highlight the need for us to properly set the foundation of ethically and morally defined robotics from the start. We will all be better off in the long run.  Even my mother.

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Balthasar Gracian’s Aphorism #292

Rest Day Read (SR-45)
from Balthasar Gracian’s “The Art of Wordly Wisdom”
Aphorism #292

Let your personal Qualities surpass those of your Office, Let it not be the other way about. How-ever high the post, the person should be higher. An extensive capacity expands and dilates more and more as his office becomes higher. On the other hand, the narrow-minded will easily lose heart and come to grief with diminished responsibilities and reputation. The great Augustus thought more of being a great man than a great prince. Here a lofty mind finds fit place, and well-grounded confidence finds its opportunity.

Who is Balthasar Gracian you ask?
Well to quote the daily email nugget of “worldly wisdom” that I subscribe to;
“In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a Jesuit priest, wrote 300 aphorisms on living life effectively called “The Art of Worldly Wisdom.” The book stays relevent to modern day society and has been used such as Machiavelli’s “The Prince” or Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” as a guidebook for everything from business to sports.
In a nutshell, one smart SOB. The daily shot of wisdom always seems to be sent to me just at the right time. Feel a little cocky? Here’s one to bring you back to earth. Feel a little beat down? Here’s one to pick you up. Always great stuff from a very wise man.

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Striving to Excellence: Harrison Bergeron

Rest Day Read (SR-44)

Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

“THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal.”

Masterpiece, an absolute masterpiece in only 2200 words. Mr. Vonnegut published Harrison Bergeron in 1961. It was relevant then and still (maybe even more) relevant now. Think about it. Think about our education system. Actually, pick any system. Excellence is thwarted, mediocrity is preferred. Kids, adults, athletes, etc., all who strive to excel must fight through many hurdles in order to succeed. They inadvertently become stronger spirits because of these efforts. Success isn’t bringing everybody down to a level of mediocre equality. Success is achieved by allowing excellence to push forward, creating a draft that pulls everything with it. Everything is made better for everyone.

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A Coach Hays Rant: Compartment Syndrome, Supplements, Etc.

Rest Day Read(SR-43)
Mystery Illness Strikes 12 High School Football Players
by Dean Shabner, ABC News
Compartment Syndrome, Rhabdomyolysis, Affect McMinnville Players
by Amy Judd
Compartment Syndrome Hits High School Football Team
by Dr. Michael Smith, MD @ WebMD
Creatine a Culprit in Oregon Compartment Syndrome Cases?
by Kim Carollo, ABC News Medical Unit

When I first heard and read of this “outbreak” of Compartment Syndrome/Rhabdomyolysis in Oregon, I can honestly say the warning bells started going off in my head. Why did this happen? What can we do to prevent this from happening in the future? How much is too much for high school athletes?
I tried to find articles to present all sides of the story. I don’t know if you can blame creatine supplements.  I don’t know if you can blame the adults for pushing the kids too far, too early in too much heat. I do know that wherever the blame lies, the behavioral factors must be prevented in the future.
I am a firm believer in The Performance Triangle (Hydration, Nutrition and Rest) for high school athletes in training. In fact, I published an article on The Performance Triangle several years ago in a football magazine called Gridiron Strategies. The article covered what I preached to the kids I coached and trained over the nine years I was allowed to work with athletes. I am not a believer in supplements, except in very, very rare situations. Whenever a kid asks me about creatine or other supplements, I first ask them to tell me what exactly the supplement does. They rarely know (Creatine phosphate, for example, helps restore muscle energy stores after extremely long intense work). They just heard by word of mouth that Product X really works and usually are doubling or tripling the recommended dose! I would explain how the supplement works then have the athlete log in a notebook their food, fluid and sleep habits over a week period. After looking at the weekly log, we can find a hydration/nutrition/rest solution to help them out 99.99% of the time. I only advised one kid in nine years to try creatine phosphate. He worked his butt off daily, ate well, drank well and slept 8+ a night and was able to benefit from the supplement taken at recommended dosage.
I believe HARD WORK IS THE MAGIC. I believe kids develop a body confidence and positive self-image through their hard work. I believe kids develop a trust and belief in themselves through their hard work that cannot be equaled. I think supplements rob this from athletes. The confidence is developed in the supplement, not in themselves. There is no magic pill, there is no easy way, HARD WORK IS THE MAGIC.

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Ah Kansas, I’m kneeling. Ah Kansas, please.

Rest Day Read (SR-41)
Salina by The Avett Brothers
Salina, I am as nowhere as I can be.
Could you add some somewhere to me?
Ah Kansas, I’m kneeling. Ah Kansas, please”

I do love this opening line to Salina by The Avett Brothers. Not the most flattering of lines for my home state, but there are days in this state where I kneel with them and beg for mercy. I am a “born and raised in Kansas” Kansan. I love this state, but things can get brutal here, especially on the meteorological front. I can relate to the sentiment of the Avetts. Yesterday, for example we are moving about 25 government, industrial strength picnic tables from Milford Lake State Park in Wakefield, Kansas to the site of an outdoor wedding of one of my favorite former football players, which is to be held this week in Clay Center, Kansas. It was 103 degrees F with a 110 degree heat index. Ah, Kansas, I’m kneeling. Ah, Kansas, please!

My highlight of the day is represented in the conversation below. At one point we had to fix a flat on a borrowed pick-up pulling a borrowed trailer on which we almost lost a wheel when the lug nuts came loose. We had finished the trailer wheels and several ex-high school former football players were waiting for the tire to be put back on the truck. We were sweating and sharing ice water out of a plastic squeeze gatorade bottle someone, who will remain nameless, apparently stolen from their former high school athletics department. Here is a conglomeration of the discussion that occurred, with Editorial G-Rated Word Substitutes [EGRWS] added where appropriate.
“Dude, this sucks!”
“Why does it have to be so durn blasted [EGRWS] hot?”
“It’s August, in Kansas, you idiot.”
“No, I mean it is always either too hot or too cold in this flipping [EGRWS]place!”
“That ain’t no bull-oney[EGRWS]!”
“Dude, this sucks!”
“I just don’t fudge-cicle eating [EGRWS] understand it. Why is it so hot here in the summer but so freaking [EGRWA] cold in the winter?”
“You got that right, winter and summer are real son’s of britches [EGRWS]”
“Look on the bright side, boys. We get about two days of the most perfect weather on the planet in the spring and maybe four or so perfect days in the fall. Maybe these are just the price we have to pay…”
“Hays, kiss my astronomy [EGRWS]”
“Just an idea.”
“Hey, why don’t you guys get off your Assisi’s [EGRWS] and get back to work! Tire’s fixed.”

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St. John the Baptist Relics Found in Bulgaria

Rest Day Read (SR-40)
St. John the Baptist Relics Found in Bulgaria
from the Focus Information Agency
“The relics found in the reliquary on the St. Ivan Island close to the coastal city of Sozopol over the week belong to St. John the Baptist, Radio FOCUS – Burgas reports.
In the reliquary archaeologists found part of a hand, part of the face and a tooth. An anthropological analysis will be made on the relics. The reliquary is made of alabaster and of marble, as archaeologists initially assumed. It was opened by a commission of experts. The relics were handed to the Bulgarian Patriarchate, which will decide where to place them.
According to historian and minister without portfolio Bozhidar Dimitrov, it will best to place the relics at the St. George church, located close to Sozopol. The reliquary on St. Ivan Island was found on July 28.”

St. John the Baptist. One of the special births, one of the special saints. St. John the Baptist. I can relate to him probably more than any other saint. The madman in the desert preaching “REPENT! For the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand!” Radical message, clearing the road for the coming of the Messiah. What an impression he must have made with his preaching. Probably a little scary.  But, he would have the honor of baptizing Jesus, even though he felt he was not worthy to do it. God knew who He could trust with that job that is for sure.
St. John the Baptist, a man of conviction. Preach the Truth, no matter who he would tick off, no matter how much trouble or how unpopular with the powers that be he would become. He would become such a threat to the establishment, it would cost him his life. I imagine those relics found in Bulgaria brought great strength to the monastery on St. Ivan Island.

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Remember, America IS the Great Melting Pot

Rest Day Read (SR-39)

Immigration Is U.S by Joel Kotkin, Forbes Magazine

“You can sing about sea to shining sea or amber waves of grain, but it’s immigration that provides America’s basic rhythm.  Nothing distinguishes the American experience from that of other nations more than the mass migration of people from elsewhere to here.  We are truly a nation of immigrants.”

“Our 21st-century economy will be shaped in large part by these immigrants and their descendants.”

I am an immigrant, several generations directly removed, but I am still proud of the fact that I am from immigrant blood. I am proud of the fact I am Croatian, Irish, English, French and maybe a few others thrown into the pot.  America is the Great Melting Pot.  Built on it, made of it and grown on it.  That is the fabric of what makes this a great nation.  The greatness of this nation lies in the very fact we are a conglomeration of races, cultures, ideas and religions. We need new immigrants to keep the fire burning bright or even light a fire under a “us” that has become stagnate.  We should be battling illegal immigration by promoting and simplifying legal immigration. We should be opening our door instead of slamming it shut.  Sure it will cause all sorts of problems and issues, but isn’t that why our nation is here?

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed,to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”— Emma Lazarus, 1883.

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Friends, Romans and countrymen…with pea shooters.

Rest Day Read (SR-38)
“Friends, Romans and Countrymen…”
-Marc Antony’s speech from
Julius Caesar by Shakespeare
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones; So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus Hath told you Caesar was ambitious: If it were so, it was a grievous fault, And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it. Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest– For Brutus is an honourable man; So are they all, all honourable men– Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral. He was my friend, faithful and just to me: But Brutus says he was ambitious; And Brutus is an honourable man. He hath brought many captives home to Rome Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill: Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept: Ambition should be made of sterner stuff: Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; And Brutus is an honourable man. You all did see that on the Lupercal I thrice presented him a kingly crown, Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition? Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; And, sure, he is an honourable man. I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke, But here I am to speak what I do know. You all did love him once, not without cause: What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him? O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts, And men have lost their reason. Bear with me; My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, And I must pause till it come back to me.”

A little high brow culture for the Rest Day Read? Well…not completely. I am of an age and place where (and I think many of you will relate) my exposure to culture and arts was mainly introduced through the magic of television. And no, I am not talking about PBS here, people. I am talking about UHF. You old folks remember the UHF, don’t you? The channels beyond the normal VHF world of channels 1-13. UHF, original cable TV before there was cable TV. Where the weird and risque’ would appear, where we would get our cartoons, the serials, monster and horror movies, Star Trek, Lost in Space, Ultra Man, Johnny Socko and His Flying Robot, Benny Hill, etc. In the KCK, our window to the world of UHF was Channel 41, possibly the greatest kid-centric station in the history of broadcasting.

I was introduced to classical music and even opera through Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, Yosemite Sam and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang. And how about the scores to Tom and Jerry? A virtual Music 101 course. And this video classic from the Little Rascals I posted today to go along with Marc Antony’s famous speech from Julius Caesar was my first introduction to Shakespeare. I honestly admit, if I would have seen Marlon Brando’s performance of the Marc Antony speech before the Spanky version, Brando might as well be speaking Portuguese. I just would not have cared.

But the Little Rascals version opened the door for me. I laughed till I cried when I first saw that. I still laugh my butt off whenever I watch it. It is a classic! It without a doubt made an impression upon my young, pliable mind. I remember years later in high school, reading Julius Caesar and watching the film version in either English or Humanities Class. Not the most interesting stuff for a high school lineman type of a guy, I must admit. But to this day I remember the light bulb of recognition flicker on as we came to the lines “Friends, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears…” I immediately had the visual of Spanky and the pea shooters! Finally, after reading line after line after line of Portuguese, William Shakespeare became a little clearer, a little brighter and made a little more sense. Give the “Hi Sign”!

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“Faith, Family and Football…in that order”

Rest Day Read (SR-37)
Gruden High School Camp 2010 ESPN Video Series
“Man, I love football, sincerely. It gives me the chance to give back to the game a little bit. Be around my son. I wasn’t a very good player when I played the game. I want to help these guys get better. I feel an urgency to do that and I am having a blast.” -Coach John Gruden

Part 1

Joy. That is the first thing I see in Coach Gruden’s eyes. Joy. Absolute, unadulterated football joy. Passion for the game. I can relate. I have been there. I have felt that joy. I have lived that passion.
Coach Paul Lane always preached the following on the priorities and perspective of football:

“Faith, Family, Football…in that order.”

Part 2

I no longer coach football. I miss it. It is like that phantom limb feeling you hear amputees describe about their missing arm or leg. It is there, but gone. The drive, passion and commitment hang in the air like a forgotten mist as I wonder where the young warriors have gone.

Part 3

I no longer coach football for a reason. What happened, you ask? The gory details are a rant for another day. But, the heart of the matter boils down to this simple fact: The 3rd F (Football) began to take too much away from the 1st F (Faith) and the 2nd F (Family). I allowed F3 to leap in front the the first two. I got off the track. I learned that F1 and F2 are what is really, really, really good and are what is really, really, really important.


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Behavioral Economics Short Course

Rest Day Read (SR-36)
#10 Economist George Loewenstein
on Behavioral Economics

Interview from Discover Magazine’s Top 100 Stories of 2009
“Behavioral economics provides a framework for explaining why people behave in a self-destructive fashion. It’s more realistic about human behavior.”
“Or take what is called the default effect: People tend to be lazy decision makers, taking the path of least resistance. And defaults are often unhealthy: At McDonald’s, for example, if you order a combo meal, the default includes a soda. We did field research at a fast-food restaurant showing that if you make the healthy options just slightly more convenient-for example, with an “express menu” that has healthy options but requires turning the page to see the full menu- you can get people to eat more healthily. You can use laziness to help people.”

Behavioral economics. Interesting stuff. The interview with Dr. Loewenstein is brief and to the point. The interview begins by addressing some of the reasons for the panic behavior with the economic meltdown of the past several years then spider webs out to a myriad of behaviors. It touches a mother-lode of information and explanation on the whys and hows of what happens when things unravel. As a coach, there’s many points in this interview that can be applied to team dynamics and individual performance. There are also points to help me understand and continue to work toward being a better human being. Good stuff!

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