Saturday, December 31, 2022

Groucho & Cavett

Two nights ago, my wife and I had the pleasure of watching Groucho & Cavett, a lesson in civility, humor and style as Grouchp's a gem for the ages and Cavett's connect to Groucho is priceless. The superb New Yorker interview titled Dick Cavett Takes a Few Questions adds to the magic without question.

2023 ...

The future beckons ...

Yours truly took this shot a few years ago in NYC. Image processed it a bit as it resonates, indirectly, to Steely Dan's Black Cow as 3AM comes to mind as does this pix, which conjures up prognostications regarding 2023 where guesstimates lurk as no one can predict the future as there is no certitude ... ever.
  • The obvious, AI is everywhere, taking over all disciplines requiring thought.
  • The lack of education intensifies in the land of the brave and home of the free. Qanon anyone?
  • The art of cursive slowly goes away as does a significant part of language.
  • Texting, the 21st-century version of New Speak, is the new normal.
  • Analog clocks become the great mystery to the young.
  • The word "clock" itself becomes the great mystery to the young as well.
  • Stick shift cars, the perfect anti-theft device, goes prime time.
  • The word "assume" apples, especially when voicing the term "I am not a scientist" when questioning the notion of climate change or the "radical" concept of a spherical earth.
  • Global Warming, the catastrophe that keeps on giving, continues unabated.
  • Overshoot is now the operative term as we're running out of earth needed to make evermore stuff.
  • The temperature outside in CT is now 50. Yesterday it was 60 plus.
  • Physicists are getting closer to unifying relativity to quantum.
  • The GOP-controlled house will be a shit show for the ages.
  • With luck, we'll avoid WWIII vis a vis Russia and Ukraine, the war that keeps on giving to the MIC.
  • Camus is right, reality's absurd, what's meaningful to you ... matters. 
  • Creativity is all about rhythm and connects in the process of problem-solving. The size of the problem solved dictates the importance of the creative act in question.
  • We will never know the full extent of reality... Heisenberg, Godel + Quantum Mechanics. 
  • Stay hungry, stay foolish. - Stewart Brand
  • What is history going to do next? - Bert Webbe
  • Happy New Year! :)

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Something to think about ...

Three years ago, your truly penned a blurb, Just a matter of time, discussing the inevitability of AI, acting as director & writer, able to create credible video using state-of-the art graphics and synthetic actors. The synthetic actors, imbued with true AI and unable to be perceived as artificial is not quite there yet but all other components are as seen by the clip above. As AI continues to evolve at breath taking speed, impacting every discipline requiring thought, the question to ask now is, will civilizations we finally encounter be mecha or orga

No one knows, do one? - Fats Waller

Why it matters ...

You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something. - Richard Feynman

Feynman in a jacket and tie, smiling

Something to think about is it not?

A different kind of hammer

Transformers, artificial lifeforms consisting of Decepticons and Autobotsbitter antagonists forever fighting one another on the planet Cybertron, also enable AI to better understand the vagaries of reality in real-time as needs warrant.

To whit ...

Imagine going to your local hardware store and seeing a new kind of hammer on the shelf. You’ve heard about this hammer: It pounds faster and more accurately than others, and in the last few years it’s rendered many other hammers obsolete, at least for most uses. And there’s more! With a few tweaks — an attachment here, a twist there — the tool changes into a saw that can cut at least as fast and as accurately as any other option out there. In fact, some experts at the frontiers of tool development say this hammer might just herald the convergence of all tools into a single device.

A similar story is playing out among the tools of artificial intelligence. That versatile new hammer is a kind of artificial neural network — a network of nodes that “learn” how to do some task by training on existing data — called a transformer. It was originally designed to handle language, but has recently begun impacting other AI domains.

Not the complete solution to AI at the level of HAL but it's a start.

Lipstick on a pig


Lipstick on a pig says it all regarding the repugs trying to justify the existence of the fabulist known as George Santos as the sole purpose of a politician, once in office, is to get reelected in order to continue to have one's nose in the financial trough of governance.

To whit ...

Rep.-elect George Santos (R-N.Y.) has put Republicans in a pickle: How do party leaders deal with his fabrications and misrepresentations without jeopardizing their slim majority or setting a precedent? 

The answer so far, for the most part, is to say nothing and let Santos speak for himself — and perhaps to let voters decide Santos’s fate in 2024.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Emmer (Minn.) and House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) have not commented on the revelations surrounding Santos’s background and falsehoods. 

The reality is that a slim incoming majority of 222 GOP seats to 212 Democratic seats and one vacancy leaves Republicans little political incentive to come down hard on Santos, as they might need his vote to pass their priorities.

Duh ...

“He’s eventually going to pay a price,” one Republican strategist said of Santos, speaking on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly. “But he’s not going to pay a price at least until after the Speaker vote because of the tight majority.”

“You have to honestly play the counterfactual. If this situation erupted within the Democratic caucus, [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.] would keep this under wraps as well and not hand out a punishment until after that happens, whatever that punishment may be,” the strategist said. “And unfortunately, you also have a slippery slope here. If you go after this guy for lying, where does it stop?”

It never does ...

Addendum from the Aussies. :)

How many pollies does it take to stimulate an economy? All of them it seems… Following on from the recent stimulus package (details in this post) announced in early March 2020, the government has announced a new “safety net package” over the weekend.   

Whilst a recession looks inevitable, Scomo and his team are reapplying the lipstick to the pig, despite the pig not being allowed out due to social distancing legislation…. we digress!

Any questions? :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The "accomplishments" of 45

Trump's idiotic 'trading cards' are the last straw for Republicans

45 has a terrific track record with his latest accomplishment, selling collectable digital NFTs showing his head photoshopped onto cartoon bodies he only wishes he had, Republicans have begun to abandon him. It is puzzling, to put it mildly, that this latest grift in a lifetime of grifting could be Trump's bridge too far for many Republicans.

It's not puzzling IMHO but read on. This is a VERY SHORT take on a very long list, courtesy Raw Story

Taking more than $400 million (in today's dollars) from his father and, during the decade between 1985 and 1994, losing more than a billion — more than anyone else in America — and declaring bankruptcy several times while claiming to be a great businessman?

Losing vast amounts of money while running a casino, a business where the house always wins?

Reacting to the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11 by claiming that the building he owned on Wall Street had been "the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan — and now it's the tallest"?

Declaring "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters." To some of his devoted voters, this statement actually applies.

His sex escapades are truly epic. Click Raw Story yet again for the choice tidbits ...

45's comments on the world at large

Calling Mexicans drug dealers and rapists?

Admitting that his "university" was a scam?

Refusing to release his income tax returns?

Asking Russia to help him dig dirt on a political opponent?

Mocking a person with a disability?

Intentionally separating migrant children from their families and putting children in cages?

And last but not least, the bravery of the man stands apart in American history. 

Faking "bone spurs" to avoid being drafted and later saying he felt "like a great and very brave soldier" in his "personal Vietnam" of avoiding STDs from all the girls he had sex with while other men were overseas, because vaginas are "potential landmines"?

Excellent to a fault.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

All Cats are Muslim

As my loyal readers know, religion is not part of the equation for yours truly but this wonderful Gawker article,  All Cats are Muslim, rocks in describing the special relationship cats have with Islam as cats are cool and ... they need not to be potty trained. Show them the litter box and the rest is history. :)

All you need to do is gift your cat with a box. She'll love you for it. Mine did back in the day. :)

Monday, December 26, 2022

The Mooch returns ...

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is led away handcuffed by officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force in Nassau, Bahamas. Photo: Kris Ingraham/AFP via Getty Images

Ah, The Mooch & S. B. F doing the hustle never disappoints prior to the collapse of FTX, the former bright light of crypto.

To whit ...

Last September, Anthony Scaramucci’s SkyBridge Capital cut a deal with Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX Ventures, the investment arm of his crypto exchange. S.B.F., then the richest Gen-Zer on Earth, agreed to buy a 30 percent stake in The Mooch’s hedge fund-of-funds for $45 million, valuing SkyBridge at $150 million, and giving him an option to buy up to 85 percent of SkyBridge after three years at a higher price. As I noted at the time, it seemed like a marriage made in crypto and SALT conference heaven.

And so The Mooch opened up his Rolodex to S.B.F, like any good business partner would. After all, The Mooch was 58 years old and had been working on Wall Street for 34 years, including two stints at Goldman Sachs, before venturing out on his own into the world of hedge funds. S.B.F., meanwhile, was just barely 30. He was allegedly long on wealth, but short on contacts and real-world experiences, after a short stint at Jane Street Capital, a relatively obscure but powerful hedge fund in downtown Manhattan. “He’s a DeFi guy who is probably going to move into some TradFi,” The Mooch told me a few months ago. “I’m a TradFi guy that’s moving into DeFi… almost like a chocolate and peanut butter, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups sort of thing.”

This piece is the first in a series of articles about people who witnessed signs of S.B.F.’s folly early on. Like the other people you will soon meet, The Mooch had known S.B.F. for a while. Unlike the others, though, he didn’t see trouble coming until most of us did. He was, and remains, a crypto believer, and took much of Bankman-Fried’s infrastructure—the lawyers, the compliance pros, the financial docs—at face value. In exchange, The Mooch got a front row seat to the S.B.F. debacle as it was unfolding. The burn is still resonating. 

Epilogue ...

Scaramucci says that fateful Middle East trip, and Bankman-Fried’s trash talk, “tipped the first domino [of the FTX collapse] a lot earlier than that domino would have been tipped otherwise”.

Excellent to a fault.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Friday, December 23, 2022

8 degrees & counting ...

Channel Crossing/rev X

A Fractal Kind of Geometry

Illumination 101

Edge Light

Abstraction ...


A Certain Level of Abstraction

A subtle experiment using masks and transitions to highlight early winter in CT. Merry Xmas everyone. :)

Thursday, December 22, 2022

We request the pleasure of your company ...

Let the good times roll, especially if you're an arms merchant with connects to Ukraine.

 Yes indeed.

The Great Forgetting

Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
 - George Orwell/1984. 

In indirect fashion, global warming's doing the same thing as the world's ice and the history it holds is going away, something akin to how Snowball Earth erased a billions years of history as per research described by paleoclimatologist Summer Praetorius in a Nautilus articled titled The Great Forgetting.

In geology, an “unconformity” represents an aberration in the normal accumulation of sediment, a glitch in the record-keeping of Earth’s history. “A stratum of amnesia in the geological record, where overlying rock, significantly younger than what lies below, represents some break in an otherwise continuous story of formation,” is how writer and poet Kim Stafford defined it.2

The longest lacuna in Earth’s history is known as the Great Unconformity. It represents a temporal gap ranging from a hundred million years to over a billion years, depending on the location. It’s visible in the Grand Canyon as the boundary between the Precambrian Vishnu Schist and the Cambrian Tapeats Sandstone, between which there is a billion years of missing time between about 1,600 and 600 million years ago. Looking at this line in the strata, it is hard to fathom all that would have conspired across that vast gulf of time, for which there is simply nothing. If it were instead to have been the last billion years that was erased, it would obliterate the entire history of complex life. No trace of a single animal having ever walked the land. No dinosaurs, no whales, no humans, no pyramids.

How does a billion years go missing? The Great Unconformity has long been a geological mystery, in no small part because it is a challenge to reconstruct history when records of history are missing.

It turns out, ice sheets are good shredders. Recent research3 suggests that the Great Unconformity may be a result of Snowball Earth—when the planet descended into deep cold (about 700 million years ago), and glaciers covered most of the land. A billion years of history was ground down by ice and bulldozed into the seafloor, where it was subducted into the Earth’s mantle and recycled into magma, ready to be remade into new history—albeit with a few hidden remnants of the past stored safely away in subterranean crystals. 

Presently, the notion of history's going away as we speak ...

But the world’s glaciers are now hemorrhaging their histories. Mountain glaciers are peeling at their edges like smoldering paper, while Greenland sweats off a million tons a minute.8 On bad days, it is enough water to submerge entire states.9 Between 1994 and 2017, 30 trillion tons of ice have been lost globally,10 and things are just starting to heat up. In August of 2021, it rained on the summit of Greenland. A melt layer will form to mark the event—a dire sign for the top of an ice sheet. Coastal areas along Greenland have become too slushy to drill into, preventing scientists from retrieving ice cores in those regions, rendering its history inaccessible.

In essence, Heat makes easy work of forgetting.

Fabulist elect ...

David Becker/Getty Images

Fabulist-elect George Santos, unqualified to be a congressman, proves, in part, the art of BS, along with a bit of creative story telling, can go a long way in getting elected in the land of the brave and home of the free.

To whit ...

Earlier this week, The New York Times set off a political bomb after it published a story that pointed out the numerous holes in Congressman-elect George Santos’s résumé. The report illuminated several instances in which Santos appears to have committed fabulism. There’s reason to doubt that he graduated from Baruch College. There’s reason to doubt he worked at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. There’s reason to question the tax-exempt status of his organization for rescuing animals. And there was reason to question the source of his wealth.

Days have passed, and Santos has been unable to disprove that he’s a real-life Bob Benson. That he is now under increasing scrutiny for what seems to be a grossly inflated résumé should not be an entire surprise to the Republican congressman or anyone else. Some months prior to the election, a small weekly local newspaper called The North Shore Leader had published an editorial that—while ostensibly endorsing Robert Zimmerman, the Democratic nominee for New York’s 3rd congressional district—broadly questioned the story Santos had sold to the public. Another North Shore Leader article reported glaring inconsistencies in his late campaign finance report: Two years ago Santos had no substantial assets, but by 2022, he was claiming a net worth of millions of dollars.

Inconvenient factoids ...

Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, the marquee Wall Street firms on Mr. Santos’s campaign biography, told The Times they had no record of his ever working there. Officials at Baruch College, which Mr. Santos has said he graduated from in 2010, could find no record of anyone matching his name and date of birth graduating that year.

There was also little evidence that his animal rescue group, Friends of Pets United, was, as Mr. Santos claimed, a tax-exempt organization: The Internal Revenue Service could locate no record of a registered charity with that name.

A fabulist indeed.

Addendum ...  It does not matter.

Yet even as Mr. Santos, whose victory helped Republicans secure a narrow majority in the next House of Representatives, admitted to some fabrication, his actions will likely not prevent him from being seated in Congress.

Lastly ...

Intentionally omitting or misrepresenting information on a congressional financial disclosure is considered a federal crime.

In other words ... This sentence is false.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

15 seconds ...

Quantum mechanics proves beyond a shadow of a doubt there is no certitude. When researchers delve into the notion of superposition, reality itself becomes questionable at best, something in concert with how our eyes and brain keep us from going truly live in an existence we will never fully understand.

Everything You See Is From 15 Seconds in the Past, New Research Claims

And that's probably the reason why our vision doesn't constantly make us throw up.

"Instead of analysing every single visual snapshot, we perceive in a given moment an average of what we saw in the past 15 seconds," the authors note in a piece published in The Conversation, a website where scientists routinely detail their latest work. "So, by pulling together objects to appear more similar to each other, our brain tricks us into perceiving a stable environment. Living 'in the past' can explain why we do not notice subtle changes that occur over time."

As the researchers put it in their paper:

Retinal images continuously fluctuate because of many sources of internal and external noise ranging from retinal image motion, occlusions and discontinuities, lighting changes, and perspective changes, among many other sources of noise. However, the objects do not appear to jitter, fluctuate, or change identity from moment to moment.

As an experiment, track your finger with your eyes, notice how smooth the motion is. Now, try to move your eyes without tracking something. Not smooth is it? This is something yours truly has noticed for years but never knew why this is so until now. :)

The image below shows why certitude is but an illusion.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The choice is up to us ...

Ronnie, the poster child for the repugs, the super salesman who gutted America by colluding with big business to offshore manufacturing via deregualtion in order to gin profits for stock holders, was the Great Communicator in bringing out homilies comparing America to "a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”while at the same time selling the meme of government being the problem, something needing to be replaced with private enterprise as unfettered capitalism is the right way to go in all things related to governance, right?

Back in 1981, when Ronald Reagan was sworn in and implicitly promised to destroy our government because it was “the problem,” many of us who strongly opposed him wondered what the final stage of Reaganism would look like.

Now we know. We’re there.

Violence toward women and minorities has exploded. Armed militias tried to assassinate the Vice President and Speaker of the House in an attempted coup directed by the Republican President of the United States. They tried to kidnap and murder the governor of Michigan. They’re blowing up power substations from Oregon to the Carolinas. They’ve embedded themselves in DHS, police departments, and our military. They’re coordinating with fascists overseas.

Leading up to this moment was a 41-year political war that splattered the American Dream like gut-shot blood across a dystopian Republican hellscape mural.

Reaganism brought us:

— the collapse of the middle class; 

— student and medical debt that’s impossible to climb out of; 

— an explosion of predation from health insurance companies and for-profit hospitals; 

— political manipulation by corporations and billionaires; 

— an explosion of homelessness and untreated mental illness; 

— and turned our elementary schools into killing fields.

The question today is whether we as a nation and a people will recover from it, or if it will, as Reagan promised on January 20, 1981, end the American experiment of pluralistic liberal democracy.

The choice is up to us ...

It's time ...

 A man standing in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington.

One study found that the Supreme Court led since 2005 by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been “uniquely willing to check executive authority.”Credit...Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times

This dark figure in this NYTimes pix shows, in indirect fashion, how this court conducts business on the sly in appropriating ever more power at the expense of the balance of power in this once great nation known as America.

WASHINGTON — The conventional critique of the Supreme Court these days is that it has lurched to the right and is out of step with the public on many issues. That is true so far as it goes.

But a burst of recent legal scholarship makes a deeper point, saying the current court is distinctive in a different way: It has rapidly been accumulating power at the expense of every other part of the government.

To whit

The past few years have marked the emergence of the imperial Supreme Court. Armed with a new, nearly bulletproof majority, conservative Justices on the Court have embarked on a radical restructuring of American law across a range of fields and disciplines. Unlike previous shifts in the Court, this one isn’t marked by debates over federal versus state power, or congressional versus judicial power, or judicial activism versus restraint. Nor is it marked by the triumph of one form of constitutional interpretation over another. On each of those axes, the Court’s recent opinions point in radically different directions. The Court has taken significant, simultaneous steps to restrict the power of Congress, the administrative state, the states, and the lower federal courts. And it has done so using a variety of (often contradictory) interpretative methodologies. The common denominator across multiple opinions in the last two years is that they concentrate power in one place: the Supreme Court.

It's time to pack or limit the power of the supremes, something the senate can do without issue.

Quoting Col. Jack Slade ...

Looking at this image says everything about the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of NFTs and the fools that buy this crap. Question, who would want this on their system let alone pay money to "own" said image where one can get it by doing a screen grab like this one. At least when one paid thousands for a tulip in Holland in the 17th century, you got the tulip. In this case, it's photons and truly ugly art.

End of rant for now but many people buy in as seen by the blurb below.

Questionable at best ...

In October, Bloomberg reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Yuga Labs’s NFTs and associated token, ApeCoin, are unregistered securities. And last June, Yuga Labs sued the artist Ryder Ripps, alleging false designation of origin, false advertising, cybersquatting, trademark infringement, unfair competition, unjust enrichment, conversion, and tortious interference. Ripps had helped spread the conspiracy theory that the Bored Ape Yacht Club’s imagery was laden with racist and Nazi iconography and then launched a rival NFT collection.

Sleaze & then some ...

Alegre will also have to contend with public skepticism of NFTs, and the onset of crypto winter in the last eight months, which had led to a precipitous drop in value for many NFTs, including collections that Yuga owns.

None of the recent turmoil in the crypto market seems to have deterred Yuga Labs’s founders. As Aronow and Solano wrote in their welcome blog to Alegre, “We’re extremely bullish on NFTs and the utility this technology brings in the long term. Yuga Labs will continue to stretch the boundaries of what is possible and keep our community updated on all the cool shit we’re working on along the way.”

In essence ...

Col. Jack Slade: This is such a crock of shit! - Scent of a Woman

The opposite of sleaze is it not?