Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Monday, September 26, 2022
As George Carlin said, the big joke relies on us rubes believing we have a choice when it comes to selecting politicians who "truly represent us" and not to the powers at be who fund their endless campaigns. The big joke also applies to banks "too big to fail" getting bailed out by us when making bad investments as there's no consequences whenever these entities make bad decisions like that of pols lying to the public about Viet Nam or banks selling options on toxic assets before the housing bubble burst in 2008. In indirect fashion, this big joke applies to The Donald's big lie as seen by the blurb below.
Donald Trump’s so-called big lie is not big because of its brazen dishonesty or its widespread influence or its unyielding grip over the Republican Party. It is not even big because of its ambition — to delegitimize a presidency, disenfranchise millions of voters, clap back against reality. No, the lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 election has grown so powerful because it is yoked to an older deception, without which it could not survive: the idea that American politics is, in essence, a joke, and that it can be treated as such without consequence.
When politicians publicly defend positions they privately reject, they are telling the joke. When they give up on the challenge of governing the country for the rush of triggering the enemy, they are telling the joke. When they intone that they must address the very fears they have encouraged or manufactured among their constituents, they are telling the joke. When their off-the-record smirks signal that they don’t really mean what they just said or did, they are telling the joke. As the big lie spirals ever deeper into unreality, with the former president mixing election falsehoods with call-outs to violent, conspiratorial fantasies, the big joke has much to answer for.
Orwell's take also rings true regarding the joke in his classic essay Politics and the English language
Each of these passages has faults of its own, but, quite apart from avoidable ugliness, two qualities are common to all of them. The first is staleness of imagery; the other is lack of precision. The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not. This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.
Sunday, September 25, 2022
Saturday, September 24, 2022
Friday, September 23, 2022
We won't talk about stick shift cars but we could, right?
There's a cost to all of this as the question to ask is, what happens if the power goes out or one needs to be able to read cursive written information articulating something really important residing on paper. Disquieting don't you think? As often stated in BRT, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch, something readily seen in the pix seen above when young people cannot discern the data contained within said images.
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
To give you some of the background: The most successful AI models today are known as GANs, or Generative Adversarial Networks. They have a two-part structure where one part of the program is trying to generate a picture (or sentence) from input data, and a second part is grading its performance. What the new paper proposes is that at some point in the future, an advanced AI overseeing some important function could be incentivized to come up with cheating strategies to get its reward in ways that harm humanity.
“Under the conditions we have identified, our conclusion is much stronger than that of any previous publication—an existential catastrophe is not just possible, but likely,” Cohen said on Twitter in a thread about the paper.
"In a world with infinite resources, I would be extremely uncertain about what would happen. In a world with finite resources, there's unavoidable competition for these resources," Cohen told Motherboard in an interview. "And if you're in a competition with something capable of outfoxing you at every turn, then you shouldn't expect to win. And the other key part is that it would have an insatiable appetite for more energy to keep driving the probability closer and closer."
Sunday, September 11, 2022
Then I witnessed the torture of Sisyphus, as he wrestled with a huge rock with both hands. Bracing himself and thrusting with hands and feet he pushed the boulder uphill to the top. But every time, as he was about to send it toppling over the crest, its sheer weight turned it back, and once again towards the plain the pitiless rock rolled down. So once more he had to wrestle with the thing and push it up, while the sweat poured from his limbs and the dust rose high above his head. (Odyssey, Book 11:593)
Tuesday, September 06, 2022
Saturday, September 03, 2022
Suffused with light is the core essence of Edward Hopper's work, an elusive quality only a few great painters possess.
Hopper’s understanding of the expressive possibilities of light playing on simplified shapes gives the painting its beauty. Fluorescent lights had just come into use in the early 1940s, and the all-night diner emits an eerie glow, like a beacon on the dark street corner. Hopper eliminated any reference to an entrance, and the viewer, drawn to the light, is shut out from the scene by a seamless wedge of glass. The four anonymous and uncommunicative night owls seem as separate and remote from the viewer as they are from one another.
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
I cycle. My son turned me onto the sport back in 1992 and I've been on the road ever since as cycling is like Zen: Head moving through space being in the world but not of it while pedaling with intense effort traversing hills and dealing with headwinds. (The Zen archer comes to mind here.) Waxing poetic about cycling is cool but this piece isn't about riding but rather about the first law of thermodynamics, you know, the one stating energy can never be created or destroyed, only transformed.
In cycling, you feel this transformation process happening all the time; go up a hill, potential energy increases, going down the hill, potential coverts to kinetic, thus showing the rider first hand how energy works in the real world. When coupled with quantum, chaos and relativity, the power of the first law and how it drives reality becomes really interesting... Monday, June 21, 2010/BRT
Now, contrast this with the E-Bike ...
In my experience, e-bikes are also strange to ride, and that strangeness contributes to their oddity. Having a motor changes a lot of things about a bike. Anytime you pedal with the motor engaged, it will push you forward more than you’ve pedaled. I thought I’d acclimate to it, but I still haven’t; especially when pedaling from a coast out of a turn, I forget the motor is in gear, and when it engages it sends me off course, flying into the curb (or worse, into traffic). The e-bike rolls into an uncanny valley, the chasm between a bicycle under my human power and a motorbike piloted directly by a throttle.
E-bikes’ identity crisis might seem like the symptom of a transition: As soon as adoption really takes off, all of these issues could work themselves out. But I’m not so sure. Something is ontologically off with e-bikes, which time and adoption alone can’t resolve. Whether as bicycles haunted by motorbikes or as mopeds reined in by bikes, e-bikes represent not the fusion of two modes of transit, but a conflict between them.
I have had my own bloody relationship with Nixon for many years, but I am not worried about it landing me in hell with him. I have already been there with that bastard, and I am a better person for it. Nixon had the unique ability to make his enemies seem honorable, and we developed a keen sense of fraternity. Some of my best friends have hated Nixon all their lives. My mother hates Nixon, my son hates Nixon, I hate Nixon, and this hatred has brought us together.
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
Space Oddity, a masterful song by David Bowie, has a new look via AI. Awesome.
Sure, the likes of Midjourney, Dall-E, and Stable Fusion will one day leave the uncanny valley behind and provide a never-ending source of perfect stock photos that will look as convincing as the real thing. That is also a big downside to all this fun: These tools are essentially mining the existing work of designers and photographers who receive no AI licensing fees in a rapidly evolving field that will have negative downstream effects for the industry.
But, right now, this video demonstrates that AI’s often otherworldly results are still limited: well-suited for poetry and fantastic literature, but not anything too literal. That seems to be the idea that moved aidontknow to turn some of Ziggy Stardust’s songs into music slideshows.
Monday, August 29, 2022
Sunday, August 28, 2022
Heresy, you know, the notion of expressing an idea contrary to church doctrine, especially in the 1600s, was a most dangerous undertaking, especially when the inquisition was in charge of questioning the validity of said idea, the most famous of which being Galileo's support of heliocentrism, the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around the Sun at the centre of the universe, a stunning rebuke to the 1500 year old church support of the Ptolemaic theory of earth being the center of the universe and not the sun. Needless to say, this affront would not stand so the inquisition tried and condemed Galileo for heresy, thus forcing the scientist to recant his findings before being placed under house arrest for the rest of his life. With this in mind, it seems appropriate Sam Alito would fit right in as an inquisitor based on the zealotry expressed by this jurist on all things concerning a woman's right to choose.
Now, though, Alito is the embodiment of a conservative majority that is ambitious and extreme. (He declined to be interviewed for this article.) With the recent additions of Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett to the Court, the conservative bloc no longer needs Roberts to get results. And Alito has taken a zealous lead in reversing the progressive gains of the sixties and early seventies—from overturning Roe v. Wade to stripping away voting rights. At a Yale Law School forum in 2014, he was asked to name a personality trait that had impeded his career. Alito responded that he’d held his tongue too often—that it “probably would have been better if I said a bit more, at various times.” He’s holding his tongue no longer. Indeed, Alito now seems to be saying whatever he wants in public, often with a snide pugnaciousness that suggests his past decorum was suppressing considerable resentment.
In July, Alito, who is seventy-two, delivered a speech at the Palazzo Colonna, in Rome, for a gathering hosted by the University of Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative—a conservative group that has filed amicus briefs before the Court. (Faculty affiliated with the group also filed briefs in Dobbs. Legal analysts at Slate noted that the spectacle of a Justice “chumming it up with the same conservative lawyers who are involved in cases before the court creates the unseemly impression of judicial indifference toward basic judicial ethics rules.”) Alito had donned stylish horn-rimmed glasses that he doesn’t usually wear in public, and he had a new, graying beard. Though the speech focussed on one of his favorite topics—the supposed vulnerability of religious freedom in increasingly secular societies—he couldn’t resist crowing about Dobbs. “I had the honor this term of writing, I think, the only Supreme Court decision in the history of that institution that has been lambasted by a whole string of foreign leaders,” Alito said. “One of these was former Prime Minister Boris Johnson—but he paid the price.” (Johnson resigned earlier this summer.)