Liberty is being free from the things we don't like in order to be slaves of the things we do like.--Ernest Benn

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winter Solstice

Most of the year there maybe two to three dozen boats moored off East Beach. That's to save slip fees. The winter storms clean them out. Some go south, some go north, some sub-lease slips in the harbor.

Those with absentee owners can end up on the beach.

My friend Jerry told me that the Harbor patrol came out early Tuesday evening and rousted him: they wanted to move him off his boat before the midnight storm forced them to come out and rescue him in the dark.

Jerry said his boat was fine: The rains washed all of the sea lion poop totally off his boat!

There's those silver linings in them there clouds, eh?

Monday, December 20, 2010

What's in Store for the Left Wing Coast?

A lot of people here might be getting a white Christmas.

All I want from Santa is for my roof to hold, my foundations to stay put and for my boat to remain buoyant.

These days my Doberwoman, Ballou, dutifully goes out the front door with me and escorts me down the driveway to get the morning papers. She stays outside just long enough to do her morning chores. And then, back in, she asks to go out the back door. When I open the door, she just turns around and comes back in.

I figure she just wasn't sure it was raining in the backyard, too.

A smart dog will nail uncertainties like that down.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Velux 5 Oceans Solo Yacht Race: 2nd Leg

The first Velux ocean sprint from La Rochelle to Cape Town wasn’t hard enough for the five single-handing skippers. The Velux 5 Oceans is about to get a lot tougher. Howling winds, freezing temperatures, mountainous seas and icebergs await the five ocean racers as they leave the comfort of Cape Town and head into the bleak expanses of the Indian Ocean bound for Wellington in New Zealand. It is here they will encounter some of the worst weather conditions known to man – and they will face them alone. More than 7,000 nautical miles, and countless obstacles, lie between the skippers and their next port of call. These are the latitudes known as Roaring Forties and the Screaming Fifties, where boats can do 10-15 knots over the water under bare poles. People will get wet and boats will be broken, somewhat.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Emirates Stadium

Home of the Arsenal Football Club

Hallowed Ground:

That's what my son calls it in sending this from his Backberry. Yesterday, along with 58,844 others, he watched the Gunners dispatch Partizan 3-1 in the European Champions' Cup yesterday. His brief text said,

Good game. And it was very, very, very cold. Did I mention that?
In response, I mentioned that I don't even do cold.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How Anosognosiac Is My Sailing?

Regular readers know that I have had three recent exposures to one-design racing. I haven't had any of that stuff since I retired 11 years ago and relocated out of Newport Beach. Racing in handicapped fleets in the interlude, I had forgotten how intense one-design can be.

Now, back in my current handicapped fleet, the Good Guys were correcting out okay. But my personal performance was spotty enough that I had to question my true abilities as a competitive sailor.

My self-examination has recalled an article I read not too long ago, The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is

This story goes back more than a decade ago. Some guy named McArthur Wheeler, age unknown, set out to rob a couple of banks in Pittsburgh. He did so, in broad day light, making no apparent effort to disguise himself. Wheeler, at At 5 feet 6 inches and about 270 pounds, was the only one who was surprised at his prompt recognition and capture.

The surveillance tapes were key to his arrest. There he is with a gun, standing in front of a teller demanding money. Yet, when arrested, Wheeler was completely disbelieving. “But I wore the juice,” he muttered. Apparently, he was under the deeply misguided impression that rubbing one’s face with lemon juice rendered it invisible to video cameras.

Police pieced together the story of Wheeler's short career preparation as a bank robber. Wheeler had actually performed a variety of tests before entering the banks. Wheeler told officers that he had discovered that by squirting himself with lemon juice, he could make himself invisible. Wheeler said that he proved this by taking a Polaroid picture of himself, drenched in lemon juice, and he didn't appear in the image. Arresting officers stated that Wheeler's Polaroid photographic experiment convinced him that rubbing one’s face with lemon juice rendered it invisible to video cameras. When he went into those banks Wheeler was armed with supreme self-confidence as well as his pistol.

Years after McArthur Wheeler was sentenced, David Dunning, a Cornell professor of social psychology, read of this case and had an Epiphany:

If Wheeler was too stupid to be a bank robber, perhaps he was also too stupid to know that he was too stupid to be a bank robber - that is, his stupidity protected him from an awareness of his own stupidity.
Professor Dunning and his graduate student assistant, Justin Kruger implemented a research project which produced some novel findings in a 1999 paper, Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties of Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-assessments.

Dunning and Kruger argued in their paper that,

When people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it. Instead, like Mr. Wheeler, they are left with the erroneous impression they are doing just fine.
This became known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect which explains how our incompetence can be so extreme that it masks our ability to recognize our incompetence. Professor Dunning explains that because his research speciality is in decision-making, he was always asking questions about,
How well do people make the decisions they have to make in life? And I became very interested in judgments about the self, simply because, well, people tend to say things, whether it be in everyday life or in the lab, that just couldn’t possibly be true. And I became fascinated with that. Not just that people said these positive things about themselves, but they really, really believed them. Which led to my observation: if you’re really incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent.

Thinking too much about the Dunning-Kruger Effect with respect to my sailing is probably not a good thing. I do much better as a skipper or helmsman when I am full of self-confidence, and when I'm confident that the crew aboard believes that I know what I am having the boat do and why. I don't care if Voltaire warns,
A state of doubt is unpleasant,
but a state of certainty is ridiculous.
I'm always in a quest for perfect certitude, even if it takes spilling a little beer on myself to get there.