Tuesday, November 19, 2019


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

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 ... :)