Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Go Fund Me Results


A few of the people who helped out via the Go Fund Me have an association with Hollywood, but only a few.  By far the people who failed were Hollywood people. Not even $10 or $20 to help a friend.  Wow.  Hey guys, thanks.  Sorry I helped you out when you needed it.  

That is about as clear as it can get.  

Thanks a lot, Jim, Joseph & MK and Jon.  

I hope someone returns the favor.

Facebook Funnies


My Facebook "Whats on your mind" is now only on my profile.  Someone got mad at me because I am too sad.  She hated that, so I dont follow her anymore. It never occurred to my friend, who is very smart, that I really am sad.  Or maybe she just doesnt care, which I think is more likely.   

I am trying to be less negative both on Facebook and in my life.  I got some real problems here, kids.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Send Michael to Siggraph!


I am trying a GoFundMe to help finance my trip to Siggraph.  Do not be intimidated by my friends who have helped out, even a small donation would help.


Its fun, sortof fun, not really, who has contributed and who has not.  I have enough money to mostly pay for a cheap hotel, so no more is required.  But still, not even $10 or $20 from some of these people?  Talk about Sad! 

Friday, July 12, 2019

Revolutionary Situation


Many friends have noticed that I seem to be rather worked up about the current political situation.  Some have politely pointed out that this apparent anger is distasteful to them and that I seem to be over excited. But what I think is that they are not anywhere near angry enough and that they are living in a fools paradise.  They dont like that, who could blame them.

I am an easy target.  I should worry more about my life and lack thereof, and at my complete failure to have a career.   No doubt some of my anger comes from that.  So this is acknowledged up front.

I think that the 2000 election was stolen by the Republicans to put their right wing stoodge in power. I protested this in Washington, where were you?

I grew up with Watergate and the Voting Rights Act.  I thought we agreed that people of color were going to be allowed to vote and participate in our society.  But that did not happen.  I thought we had agreed that we would have free elections, and not counting votes in Florida or disenfranchising Native Americans or Hispanic Americans is not a free election.

Putting right wing nuts and rapists on the Supreme Court means that you no longer have a judiciary.  Who cares what the Supreme Court says when in no way can you respect it. Maybe you respect it.  I dont.

And yet my elected representative isnt sure about impeaching Donald Trump, who was not legally elected as far as I can tell.  

I think what you have here is a revolutionary situation.  I am surprised that there has not been more violence. I think people are in denial that the constitution failed and that there has been a right wing coup d'etat.  

At some point all these little things add up and then where are you?

I want to congratulate Russia for being completely successful at helping Americans lose faith in their institutions!  Good job guys!  Best of show! 

Monday, July 8, 2019

Reasons to Impeach Trump


This is what I would have expected from our elected representatives by now.  Forgive my pretensions, I am not Jefferson.  All of the following is, to the best of my knowledge, just basically and obviously true, with one or two statements slightly slanted to make the point. 

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

The history of the present President of the United States is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

- He has demonstrated a complete contempt for the truth, lying about matters of public record and often of national security causing harm to the Republic and to people's trust in their government,

- He has attacked the integrity and reputation of our institutions of justice and intelligence and made false accusations of bias and malfeasance,

- He has signed into law a tax bill that has dangerously increased the deficit, solely for the benefit of the rich and of corporations at the expense of all other Americans, 

- He has obstructed Congress in its constitutionally mandated role to investigate and maintain oversight of the Executive Branch,

- He has insulted our allies and threatened many of the international alliances upon which our security depends, 

- He has caused the families of refugees to be ripped apart and deliberately subjected refugees to inhuman and appalling treatment,

- He has unfairly attacked and called for the violent suppression of a political opponent, 

- He has encouraged racists and organizations devoted to violence in support of racism, 

- He and his attorney general have misrepresented the content of an independent investigation of matters vital to this nation in order to obstruct further investigation into his overtly criminal activities, 

- He has failed to nominate appropriate people for the various positions in the executive branch that are mandated by congress and has deliberately tried to avoid Congressional oversight,

- He has instructed members of the executive branch to violate the law and the constitution, knowing full well that his instructions, if carried out, would be a criminal act, 

- He has failed to act aggressively to investigate the hostile acts of a foreign actor who has deliberately spread misinformation and attacked the integrity of our elections,

- He has nominated grossly unqualified people to the judiciary in order to damage it, doing so with the help of a Senate Majority leader who has violated all our traditions of approving such justices, including in the worst case, nominating and approving a justice to the supreme court who is suspected of violence against women without proper investigation, 

- He has violated precedent by refusing to reveal his finances in spite of widespread suspicion of malfeasance, 

These actions and many more have damaged our nation, its institutions and its reputation.  He has diminished the faith that our people have in a fair and just government.  

Anyone of even the slightest integrity and loyalty to our nation would have resigned by now but, having failed to resign, we are forced to begin proceedings of impeachment which is both our duty and our right.  It will then be up to the Senate to demonstrate whether it has any integrity and loyalty to our nation or is merely a political tool of the poseur and criminal currently in the position of President of these United States.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Republican Arguments in the Trump Era


Favorite Republican insanity in the recent news.

-- A lawyer for the Trump administration actually argued against giving the children imprisoned in our concentration camps tooth brushes, and other devices and means of personal hygiene.  Sieg Heil, baby. 

-- An editorial in one of the major rags (WaPo, I think) that argued that the United States Census has "always been the presidents", implying that if Trump wanted to add the citizenship question that he should be permitted to without question.  Actually the census is mandated by the US Constitution and no such privilege or authority exists or has ever existed.

-- Another editorial (probably WaPo, I will check) argued that "liberals owed Gorsuch an apology" because he did not vote the straight conservative ticket on some decision the Supreme Court made.  No, actually, we don't.  Gorsuch is a right wing nutty boy who is sitting in Merrick Garland's chair.  He should be impeached along with Kavanaugh.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Escape From LA (1996): Some Good, Some Bad


Just viewing Escape from LA (1996) for the first time.  There is good and bad here.  Generally stream of consciousness below, more or less in order.

On the positive side, the president's daugher in pink is nice.  Some of the military women are hot.  Some of the matte paintings, while stupid, are kind of fun.  I always enjoy bad women who are tall and wear latex.  I like the Western theme music.  Some of the motorcycles are nice.  Always great to see people take care of their ride.  I like the "bolas".  I like the Island of Lost Souls / Twilight Zone aesthetic of the hospital.  I like the computer geek / nerd characterization.  Definitely a type.  I think thats the real Colliseum.  Looks good even with all the trash on it.

But there are a few flaws.  Off the top of my head ... The virus should be designed to take longer to take effect.  Come on guys, people need time to get stuff sorted out.  He doesnt know where he is going, he is probably going to have to walk.  Nuclear turbines take time to warm up.  No submarine could take abuse like that.  Wear your seatbelt, Plissken!  You are not going to hold back a multi-ton submarine with your hands.  If its falling, it is going to go.  Back to those women in latex, you know, latex is really hard to maintain.  And that looks like a rough environment.  Other than the previously mentioned Western theme music, I hate the music. When escaping from the hospital, he should have definitely killed the doctor.  I hate it when morons shoot in a circle towards the center.  Dont they know thats how people get hurt?  Access tunnels that are not being used are not well lit and are generally full of sh*t.  The EMP by satellite idea is pretty stupid.  Oh No, not another gladiator fight.  Oh God, no. 

Thank God!  Its just a basketball game.  I cant watch anymore.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Python 3 Virtual Environments and Numpy


Memo to myself.  These computers are no good.  I told you, but you wouldnt listen.  Now here you are, old, broken, poor and infested with Python version skew problems. Now listen to me for once and run to a virtual environment. For each project that uses python, create a virtual environment with 

cd project directory; python3 -m venv target-dir

Start the virtual environment with source target-dir/bin/activate

Install appropriate packages with pip3 install package-name

Next time maybe you will listen to me and not give me such a hard time.  I am only trying to help.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Future Visual Effects


This post will evolve over the next week.

The question of the moment is this: if you could guess how visual effects will evolve over the next 5 years, what would you guess? Ones answer could be about technology, or about the business, or the creative vision of the project or about any aspect of the field.

I have asked several friends to weigh in here. Feel free to send me email or leave a comment here with your thoughts.

As an example of something that I was surprised about has been the vast volume of visual effects done with computers. Producers have been able to save money on otherwise useless writers, often saving several hundreds of thousands of dollars by merely adding another 10 or 20 million dollars of pointless visual effects. The scope of work is breathtaking.

I will kick this off with two fairly obvious ones:

1. The various efx palaces will push forward on the photorealistic human character, an area where great progress has already been made. A pandora's box of silliness will result from this, more than we already see.

2. AI/Machine Learning will be applied rigorously to all areas of the production pipeline both to create new techniques (e.g. deducing 3D motion from footage) but also to help reduce the work load of these vast projects. Expect literally hundreds of examples of this over the next few years. Technical footnote: the big players have all the advantages here, as we often find. The reason in this case is that they have the data, or can generate the data on their next big project or two. And Machine Learning is heavily dependent on having a lot of training data.

to be continued.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Conference Plan that Didnt Work


The hope was that once things settled down, and I had built some sort of lab/studio (done), and done some new work (done) that I would become a full member of ACM with access to their digital library (done) that I would attend a variety of conferences (not done). As a classic auto-didact,  the thought was that I would be able to meet new people and get up to date on a number of important fields. Such fields might include computer vision, machine learning, color theory, planetariums, advanced puppetry, Roman archaeology and so forth.  I did this sort of multi-conference attending when I was much younger and starting out so it seemed reasonable that I might do that again when trying to craft a new career. I might not be a member of those fields in any way beyond attendance, but that felt useful. Perfection was not required.

But there were some fatal flaws with this strategy and I have not been able to execute.  The reality as I understand it is described below.

1. It turns out that many of those those who are able to attend more than one conference are generally professional academics and they are expected to have grants to mostly cover the costs of this activity.  In some cases, these people are participants at a high level and may have some or all of their fees waived. But even when the fees are not waived, of course being a participant, even in a small way, can make the experience more valuable.  One friend who is a full professor of CS goes to at least 6 conferences a year (Or maybe it is six conferences in the year I was trying to keep track.  I know he plans to go to fewer in the future, not sure why, but a straightforward guess is that it is too disruptive to his other work. )

2. Those who have a real job are generally expected to attend one conference a year and those fees and expenses may be convered depending on the details.  A very few are like my friend CE who goes to perhaps a dozen conferences a year in association with Planetarium work (he guesses about 1/2 dozen).  Another exception is my friend MH who represents a very large and well known animation and theme park company at various conferences to encourage young people to develop in areas of interest to the long term vitality of her field(s).  A third exception to this are people who are in the "research" departments of a large corporation and they may go to as many conferences as the professional academic, above, but instead of grants the corporation pays the way.  Thus one may find at these conferences a fair number of people who are sponsored by corporations and not the university.

3. Then there are students.  As full time students in the field they receive generous discounts and opportunities, but this is only (theoretically) for full time students and not for others associated with academia, such as Adjuncts.

4. Finally, there are individuals, perhaps with a loose affiliation with some company or institution, but generally self financed.  These are people who have perhaps won the lottery, or inherited wealth, or simply done well earlier in life and can now afford to indulge their desire for self-study.

5. Not that I make mistakes, but if I did, here is a short list of some of them in conceiving this plan. The first mistake was to think I qualified for any discount, which, as an individual and independent I do not.  The hope was that an association with a university would be enough (e.g. adjunct) to qualify for a discount but that is incorrect. The second mistake was to underestimate what the real costs of attending would have to be, including travel, hotels, meals and local transportation on top of the full conference fees. The third mistake was to underestimate my aversion to travel because it is so expensive and for other, less rational, reasons.  And the fourth mistake was to underestimate the costs of my other activities which meant that I have less resources than expected.  

But if not this strategy, then what replaces it?