Saturday, November 30, 2019

A code of ethics ...

Having served in the military but, thank god, was never in combat, was an experience that brings to mind this truly excellent article by a guy who also served, explaining in no uncertain terms, why President Bone Spurs knows nothing about how the military works when everything's on the line and why discipline and a code of ethics is key to reducing atrocities in war that certain people commit in situations this writer never wants to see.

In closing ...

If these guys are allowed to get away with murder, why should soldiers obey lesser laws? The UCMJ, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, is used to prosecute crimes within the military. But it’s also used to enforce discipline and keep order within units. So-called “Article 15” non-judicial punishments are handed out by commanders for minor infractions of the rules, like being caught speeding or sleeping on guard or failure to keep a barracks room neat and orderly. What’s the motive to obey the little rules and regulations which help to keep order and create effective units if the big rules and laws are not only being ignored, but crimes of murder and mayhem in war are being celebrated by the president of the United States?

Lucian K. Truscott IV | graduate of West Point

Spot on commentary without question.

Friday, November 29, 2019

An act of faith ...

AI, the other 900 lb gorilla in the room, besides global warming, is moving toward sentience as we speak. It's not here yet but it will be as there is simply too much money to be made by the various entities who build it but there's a catch, will it be good or evil when said tech becomes self-aware?

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

To whit ...

The debate ...

End result ...

Addendum: In February in San Francisco, in a benchmark test, the system squared off against Harish Natarajan, a world champion debater. In that case, the A.I. drew its arguments from 400 million published articles available on the Internet. The audience judged that Natarajan narrowly defeated the A.I. on the question of whether government should subsidize preschool education.

And this ...

Project Debater - Speech by Crowd is an AI platform for crowdsourcing decision support. Share your arguments on debatable topics, and our AI constructs persuasive narratives both pro and con, giving you a fresh perspective.

An act of faith indeed ...

On its own ...

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Polar Vortex circa 2019 ...

"Wonderful" BRT has waxed poetic about the weakening of the polar vortex and jet stream due to the impact of global warming which allows colder air to move south while warmer air pushes north, thus freezing different parts of the country in ways that truly boggle the mind depending on how far south certain parts of the jet stream extends at a given point in time. 

& so it goes ... Kurt Vonnegut.

Sunday, November 24, 2019


Love it or hate it, this is the first vehicle with the look of the 21st century as everything else is but a continuous evolution of automotive design beginning around 1900. Besides evoking Blade Runner and Total Recall in terms of vehicle design, the truck also channels the Bauhaus with angles and circles galore, something Gropius would appreciate without question.

Balls of steel really do apply to Musk without question.

The Bauhaus logo

Balls of steel indeed.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Just how old are they?

What a wonderful mystery. Just how old are Saturn's rings? 100 million on the young side, 4.5 billion on the old. Take your pick as researchers are debating this age issue with delicious intensity.

To whit ...

As new perspectives often do, this one revealed a surprise. Previously, planetary scientists had assumed that Saturn’s rings were as old as the solar system itself — about 4.5 billion years old. But cosmic clues hidden deep within the rings caused some Cassini scientists to massively revise this figure. The rings aren’t as old as the solar system, they argued in a paper published this summer in the journal Science. They emerged no more than 100 million years ago, back when dinosaurs roamed Earth.

An explosion of media coverage linking the rings to the age of dinosaurs helped to quickly solidify the new findings in the public’s eye. If you enter the search phrase “how old are Saturn’s rings,” Google returns the answer “100.1 million years.”

Aurélien Crida, a planetary scientist at the Côte d’Azur Observatory, was incredulous at this definitive declaration. “I was a bit pissed off by how it was assessed, that the rings are young, and it’s over,” he said.

The mystery deepens ...

Unlike religion, science is designed to be disproved. Awesome without question.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Channeling Andromeda

Super computers, driven by math and intense code, give rise to simulations that intuitively show how nature works at the largest of scales.

Royal Astronomical Society - The formation of a single massive galaxy through time, from early cosmic epochs until the present day, in the TNG50 cosmic simulation. The main panel shows the density of the cosmic gas (high in white, low in black). Insets show large-scale dark matter and then gas (lower left), and small-scale stellar and gaseous distributions (lower right).

This TNG50 galaxy will be similar in mass and shape to Andromeda (M31) by the time the movie reaches the current epoch. Its progenitor experiences rapid star formation in a turbulent gas reservoir which settles into an ordered disc after a couple of billion years of cosmic evolution. A rather quiet late time assembly history without major mergers allows the galaxy to relax into an equilibrium balance of gas outflows from supernova explosions and gas accretion from its surroundings.

The real deal.

The virial mass of the Andromeda Galaxy is of the same order of magnitude as that of the Milky Way, at a trillion solar masses (1012M☉). The mass of either galaxy is difficult to estimate with any accuracy, but it was long thought that the Andromeda Galaxy is more massive than the Milky Way by a margin of some 25% to 50%. This has been called into question by a 2018 study which cited a lower estimate on the mass of the Andromeda Galaxy,[12] combined with preliminary reports on a 2019 study estimating a higher mass of the Milky Way.[13][14] The Andromeda Galaxy has a diameter of about 220,000 light-years, making it the largest member of the Local Group at least in terms of extension, if not mass.

The number of stars contained in the Andromeda Galaxy is estimated at one trillion (1×1012), or roughly twice the number estimated for the Milky Way.[15]

The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are expected to collide in around 4.5 billion years, merging to form a giant elliptical galaxy[16] or a large lenticular galaxy.[17] With an apparent magnitude of 3.4, the Andromeda Galaxy is among the brightest of the Messier objects[18] making it visible to the naked eye from Earth on moonless nights,[19] even when viewed from areas with moderate light pollution.

Awesome to a fault.

"I like to watch" ...

The art of "seemingly" being there and communication brought to a truly interactive level awaits as seen by this stellar Microsoft presentation of a 3D hologram able to speak Japanese in real-time. Thanks my good friend Chris H-T for this gem as you are a truly dangerous man. :)

As an aside, Being There, an amazing book by Jerzy Kosinski, made into an equally amazing film of the same name, indirectly connects to this presentation as Chauncy Gardner was not there in terms of intelligence but was perceived to be by the great unwashed based on zen comments not understood by either Chance or the public in any way, shape or fashion.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Jack O'Lanterns on Town Green ...

Had to do another. :)

In spite of the intense weather and trees falling down, the Redding Garden Club's Jack O'Lanterns on Town Green was a success. :) Enjoy.


Had to do this video for the old home town. Lots of work but also lots of fun. Halloween rules. :)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The most elegant experiment in physics

Hot, Hot, Hot

Peppers large and small have varying degrees of hotness but with Euphorbia, the hotness factor is literally off the charts. 

In Morocco there grows a cactus-like plant that’s so hot, I have to insist that the next few sentences aren’t hyperbole. On the Scoville Scale of hotness, its active ingredient, resiniferatoxin, clocks in at 16 billion units. That’s 10,000 times hotter than the Carolina reaper, the world’s hottest pepper, and 45,000 times hotter than the hottest of habaneros, and 4.5 million times hotter than a piddling little jalapeno. Euphorbia resinifera, aka the resin spurge, is not to be eaten. Just to be safe, you probably shouldn’t even look at it.

But while that toxicity will lay up any mammal dumb enough to chew on the resin spurge, resiniferatoxin has also emerged as a promising painkiller. Inject RTX, as it’s known, into an aching joint, and it’ll actually destroy the nerve endings that signal pain. Which means medicine could soon get a new tool to help free us from the grasp of opioids.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Heading toward the abyss

Looking at this frightening picture, complete with a burning scale model of Hong Kong, says it all in terms of this conflict ending up in an abyss of violence and suppression as China tightens its grip on the former British colony no matter what the cost may be.

The other spasm of violence Monday took place on an overpass across town from the shooting. There, a middle-aged man reprimanded a group of protesters, accusing them of lacking patriotism for the Chinese motherland. He was set ablaze.

“Go back to the Greater Bay Area!” protesters shouted at him, using Beijing’s term for the region of southern China that includes Hong Kong and neighboring cities.

The Hospital Authority said that both the protester who had been shot and the man who had been set on fire were in critical condition.

Echos of Paris '68 n'es pas?

In transit

Sunday, November 10, 2019

This VERY rarely happens ... :)

This VERY rarely happens, AFAIK, as users tend to be relatively intelligent and don't accuse a vendor of imagined transgressions in such hilarious fashion but ... the notion of a software company actually calling you, let alone have a real person online able to help you, in today's age, goes beyond the realm of comprehension.

In yours truly's limited (thank god) experience with the help desk, there were just two vendors that stepped up, the first was an SGI (Silicon Graphics), software engineer who talked me through a nasty code problem with humor and grace and the other, an AWS network guru who saved the day for this old user getting access to a difficult AWS server environment. Without question, these two sessions proved that competency and wanting to help has not been totally extinguished in the year of our lord 2019.  :)

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Daydreaming ... or the art of thinking like a human

Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?

By the mass, and ‘tis like a camel, indeed.

Methinks it is like a weasel.

It is backed like a weasel.

Or like a whale.

Very like a whale.

Cloud watching-AKA- daydreaming whereby having a purpose to dream is not the issue, (Save for Hamlet spoofing on Polonius) freeing the mind to think in new ways is, a notion becoming all too real in all things relating to AI.

Evolutionary algorithms have been around for a long time. Traditionally, they’ve been used to solve specific problems. In each generation, the solutions that perform best on some metric — the ability to control a two-legged robot, say — are selected and produce offspring. While these algorithms have seen some successes, they can be more computationally intensive than other approaches such as “deep learning,” which has exploded in popularity in recent years.

The steppingstone principle goes beyond traditional evolutionary approaches. Instead of optimizing for a specific goal, it embraces creative exploration of all possible solutions. By doing so, it has paid off with groundbreaking results. Earlier this year, one system based on the steppingstone principle mastered two video games that had stumped popular machine learning methods. And in a paper published last week in Nature, DeepMind — the artificial intelligence company that pioneered the use of deep learning for problems such as the game of Go — reported success in combining deep learning with the evolution of a diverse population of solutions.

In other words, the start point to thinking like a human.

Independence Day ... for real. :)

Saturday, November 02, 2019

full of sound and the fury ...

"What's happening?" encapsulates The Donald's incessant tweeting to the degree that any rational human being must ask the essential question, how the hell can this man do anything of consequence in terms of governance while raging against the machine 24/7?

To whit ...

Such is the frenetic life cycle of conspiracy-driven propaganda, fakery and hate in the age of the first Twitter presidency. Mr. Trump, whose own tweets have warned of deep-state plots against him, accused the House speaker of treason and labeled Republican critics “human scum,” has helped spread a culture of suspicion and distrust of facts into the political mainstream.

The president is also awash in an often toxic torrent that sluices into his Twitter account — roughly 1,000 tweets per minute, many intended for his eyes. Tweets that tag his handle, @realDonaldTrump, can be found with hashtags like #HitlerDidNothingWrong, #IslamIsSatanism and #WhiteGenocide. While filters can block offensive material, the president clearly sees some of it, because he dips into the frothing currents and serves up noxious bits to the rest of the world.

It gets "better".

By retweeting suspect accounts, seemingly without regard for their identity or motives, he has lent credibility to white nationalists, anti-Muslim bigots and obscure QAnon adherents like VB Nationalist, an anonymous account that has promoted a hoax about top Democrats worshiping the Devil and engaging in child sex trafficking.

To yours truly, Trump's non-stop ranting reminds one of Shakespeare's iconic phrase ...

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Macbeth, Act V, Scene 5

Any questions?

The answer is ... :)

The answer is ... :)