Thursday, October 10, 2019

Status Report October 10, 2019

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Things are evolving on a political and a personal level. Theoretically I am making steady progress at unpeeling the onion, even if that onion has surprises. For example, my physical health has been checked out in a variety of quantitative ways and, oddly, there does not seem to be anything wrong. When it comes to my dental situation, however, that is far worse than expected. Well, the wages of sin is death, I have heard, and the chickens come home to roost. Nevertheless I have a good local clinic and once some difficult choices are made I will have the opportunity (and can afford) a year of dental work. These teeth only have to last another 20 or so years, I figure. That seems doable to me.


Emotionally, and in the long term, I proceed, but self doubts emerge and then are suppressed. I am trying to be very practical, and I am being so, I hope, and show regular progress. But will this really result in what I really want: vindication, showing them they were wrong, world fame, my MacArthur award, no, of course it wont. And that does make me a little crazy. I want to be practical and yet this all feels quixotic. I am thinking of elaborating my goals: one non fiction book, one play, one PhD, etc, who knows.

The problems with the political situation(s) are many, even if things are evolving in a somewhat predictable fashion. I have lost many friends over the following: I think I see where big chunks of this are going and the critical events have already happened and there is very little hope. It doesnt matter whether Trump is impeached, although that would be nice. He should go to jail although of course he wont. There has been severe damage, it has been coming for a while, but its much worse now. Fixing that damage will not be possible in many cases, and too late in others, etc. The dead people will stay dead. The right wing nutty boy judiciary will not be fixed. The future elections will be rigged with that judiciary. The electoral college, always a doubtful compromise, has become a disaster and it will not be fixed. The bullshit of predatory capitalism and wealth inequality has been exposed but nothing will change. The money will not be refunded to the government. We have betrayed some of our best allies, and no one should trust us again if they ever did.

Maybe a degree from the London School of Economics. Maybe a little cottage in some Commonwealth Country and then I die?


Maybe.


And yes, I am angry because I think that there was a better America in us, and that if we had worked together this did not have to happen. I think we have thrown a historic moment away and we will be judged for it, and that judgement will be harsh and completely deserved.

I think we fucked it up.


Thank you for listening.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Things I May Have Learned From the Experience (second draft)

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A woman I only know on Facebook said how happy she was that I had given up on politics because now I could be funny again.  If only she knew what I was really like.  Maybe I should get a date before she finds out?  

But it is true that my attitude has changed about politics and I think I have learned some things.  Most of my friends wont agree with these but that is just too bad isnt it?  Maybe they learned something else?  This is what I learned.  

For those of you who are too fragile to handle my reality, go to the end, because I say a few positive things.   I mark such items with an (*).

1. Protests dont matter, at least peaceful protests dont.  Yes, it does build morale, and I suppose it is better than doing nothing, but not by much.  You are ignored, it makes no difference that I noticed.  Go ahead and protest all you want, I will certainly be with you.  But know up front, you are going to come home and discover that you were laughed at by those in power.

2. Calling your Congressperson (or sending email or ...) almost doesn't matter.  It might matter a little bit more than participating in a protest, but that is not saying much.  By all accounts, the helpful assistant will verify your residence, put you in a database, and your opinion is likely to be part of a weekly summary that goes to Congressperson or one of their top aides in aggregate form.  Ironically, my Republican congressman, Duncan Hunter of CA 50, was much more responsive than Salud Carbajal, my current congressman from CA 24 who is a Democrat.  I never hear back from the latter.  From Hunter's office I would actually get a phone call or two, and I was invited to a nice town meeting.  Ultimately it would not have changed his vote on anything, because Hunter is a hardcore Republican, but it certainly felt nice.

3. Your vote is almost useless.  If you are voting for a congressman, you have probably been gerrymandered out of existance.  If you are allowed to vote, it is perfectly likely that those on your side have not been permitted because of the Republican efforts to control voter registration. 

4. There is no point in discussing politics or even facts with a Republican.  They are just going to insult you and couldnt care less what you think.

5. The judiciary has been destroyed by Republicans.  Do not expect justice from there.

(*) 6. On the other hand, Actblue has made it very easy to give small donations to pretty much any progressive candidate and I hope you will do so.  I try to give $25.00 to any cause or person I believe in.  I always leave a tip for Actblue for their incredibly useful service.  I know it is having some impact because the Republicans hate it.

(*) 7. Direct action of some non-violent type is likely to make some impact, even if it only just gets attention.  Doing so requires serious work.

(*) 8. AOC proves that we can run candidates who can make a difference.  Find this person in your area and work for them!  It wont always work, but sometimes it will and it is one of the few things the elite pays attention to.

(*) 9.  Even though I dont believe that protests, calling your Congressman or voting actually makes much of a difference, I plan to keep doing so for its symbolic value.  I expect that I will be characterized as a "crank" for expressing my opinion.  Thats OK with me, I expect it.

Meta Textual Issues with Thor Ragnorak

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I think very highly of Thor Ragnorak (2017) and would never in a million years say anything negative about it. But there are some notes I have after watching it maybe 50 times.  For those of you who perhaps may say that I am taking this a little too seriously, well, sure, of course I am.

And so a few things that felt a little wrong to me:

1. Why are Hela's warriors evil, demonic looking bastards?  These are the ancient warriors of Asgard!  They should be handsome if a little scarred and maybe worse for wear.   Why would the predecessors of Vikings be ashamed of killing people and stealing gold?  They did that all the time.  That was their raison d'etre by all accounts.  Well, of course there is an answer to this and it is straightforward.  We are looking at Norse culture through our own, and if we are ashamed of our violent past (stealing the land and murdering the native Americans / first peoples, for example), then they should be as well.  Simple enough.
 
2. From what I know of this period, I would expect a lot more drinking, a lot more hosting people in big halls with drinking, bragging and toasts, and a lot more riddles.   They really liked their riddles, it seems to be a major part of their culture. Depending on who you believe it is even possible that riddles were a part of their religious beliefs (as we would call them, I doubt they would see them that way).  See (1) for some entertaining theories on that whole topic.

3. As for Valkyrie being gay and Loki bisexual, well that is possible but with stern restrictions.  One was expected to get married and have children, more or less, without exception.  If you were male, it was OK to be bisexual as long as (a) you were married and had kids, and (b) you were on top.  Seems a little weird, doesnt it, since if you are going to have a top, you pretty much are required to have a bottom, but whatever.  I will let you read what Hallakarva says on these topics (2).  The evidence on lesbians is far less substantial, presumably for all the usual reasons involving historical survival of sources (generally speaking, women and poor people are not well documented).

So what is our conclusion?  Not much.  Maybe it is foolish to look for such things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?  But they did such a great job with historical accuracy with Captain America!

_______________________________

1. The White Goddess by Robert Graves

2. See The Vikings and Homosexuality by Hallakarva
https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/pwh/gayvik.asp




Monday, October 7, 2019

Rebuttal to Rumor about House Impeachment and Subpoenas

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I have done a lot of reading on the issues of (a) what the House has to do to start an investigation and (b) who can issue subpoenas.  This email is a report on what I have discovered so far and what my sources were.  If you can point me to any other relevant material, by all means do so.

So far as I know the following is accurate but somewhat simplified.  In broad strokes, the situation is clear and unambiguous although when it comes to the individual merits of a specific subpoena and whether executive privilege or attorney privilege applies then that opens a different set of issues that we are not addressing here.  What we are discussing is the assertion that the House did not follow the rules when it came to starting an investigation and that therefore all the subpoenas are invalid.  Both of these assertions are false.

The primary sources are (a) the constitution, (b) articles about the constitution and impeachment written in various law journals (Harvard and Georgetown seem to be the leading ones so far), (c) Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports which are a fabulous resource see below, and (d) a funny blog I read a lot called www.lawfareblog.com, which is a blog about congress and national security. They try to be bipartisan, but I think in this case what it means is that smart people of different opinions write articles on a topic and then ignore each other.  Theoretically, one should be knowledgable about all the times the House has investigated someone to see what the precedent is, but that is going to be much harder to do.   (As an aside, I love the CRS reports and they are a great resource.  The idea is that you are (for example) a new member of Congress and you have no idea what the history of our relationship with Turkey and the Kurds are, and you dont have that much time to read.  So the CRS will probably have written a nice background paper for you.  Many of the papers can be found at https://fas.org/sgp/crs/)

So as I understand it, it goes something like this.  The constitution gives the sole right to the House to "impeach" which is essentially to act as a grand jury (i.e. to choose to bring an indictment, or not) in any matter involving the executive, the judiciary and, for that matter, themselves.  The Senate is not involved unless Articles of Impeachment are passed by the House by a simple majority of the present and voting members.  Both the House and the Senate may investigate pretty much whatever they want, but only committees can issue subpoenas.  Each committee has its own rules and its own traditions about all sorts of things, but certainly about subpoenas.  In general the rules are voted on, accepted, and then published at the beginning of each session of congress.  Sometimes the rules are modified in mid-session, for example the House Judiciary Committee recently changed the rules to allow more time for a witness to be questioned.  So far as I can tell, there is no special procedure which has to be followed before an impeachment investigation has begun.  I find no reference to one anywhere.  There is however a variety of rules involving what a committee must do to issue a subpoena and those rules seem to be different between the different committees.

Some committees need a vote before a subpoena can be issued.  Some committees delegate this ability to the Chairman or to the Chairman and the ranking minority leader acting as a team.  Some committees allow the minority members to block a subpoena.  An excellent discussion of this is

Each committee has its own rules about what can be delegated to the chairman of the committee, what the ranking minority member can do, how much notice must be given, whether the ranking minority member can, for example, block a subpoena, and so forth.  There is no one standard here, each committee has its own rules.  I recommend you read the CRS report on the issue which can be found at:  https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44247.pdf

As I suspected there is no magical procedure that has to be followed to start an investigation.  Do you really think that the Democrats would be so stupid as to "forget"?  I sure dont.  But I was surprised a bit at the different rules of the different committees, that was news to me.  What is not at all clear is what Congress can do when you have a rogue, obviously corrupt administration like the current Republican/Trump one.  Ultimately, Congress has the power to put people in jail for contempt of Congress and I think that is likely to be where this leads. You can do your friends a favor by feeding this back to them.  Its their credibility that gets hurt by stuff like this.

There is an amazing about of bullshit out there.  I dont know why the Republicans put up with this.

Android Voice to Text Fails


On my Motorola phone, every once in a while the voice-to-text just stops working.  It just sits there and looks at you and says go ahead and say whatever you want I am not going to do anything.


Wednesday, October 2, 2019

What Can I Tell You?

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When this is all over, we are going to need major surgery to the Constitution to prevent this from happening again and, frankly, I dont think our government is up to it.

In other news, a Lyft driver accused me of being "a Jew" and offered to drop me off in the middle of the freeway.


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

What Would a Reasonable Criticism of Greta Thunburg Be Like

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Greta Thunburg spoke at the UN about global climate change and of course there has been a huge reaction from our right.   As we would expect from the right, all the arguments are ad hominem or worse.  So lets ask what a proper response would be if people were actually being constructive here.

In the following, I am not saying that she is wrong and these arguments prove it, I happen to think she is fundamentally correct and serving a useful purpose. 

They might say "We are already in the midst of doing everything humanly possible to ameliorate global climate change, but thank you for your reminder."  Of course that wouldnt work because no one in the world would believe it.

Or they might say "Creating a binding international agreement that affects so many parties and costs so much money today (however much it may save money in the future as well as lives, etc) is by definition incredibly complicated, takes a long time, and in the past has rarely worked".  That would be historically true but one could easily retort "yeah, but not only are you not trying, you are actively impeding progress".

Or they might say, "You are right and we have dropped the ball, but you cant just say "fix it", you have to build a consensus for a solution and that is nearly impossible in this case".  A good response to that is that "We dont care".

But none of this matters.  Greta has the moral high ground. And a Child Shall Lead them.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Regularly Send Complaints To Your Congressman

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Anyone who regularly contacts their Congressperson is considered a crank.  I have decided to definitively become a crank because clearly my Congressperson (or Congress, or the US Government) is failing to achieve even minimum goals as a responsible democracy, instead being led down the garden path to a fascist future by our lovely Republicans (who are all traitors as far as I can see).

A recent problem: The EPA approves asbestos for use but refuses to allow studies.  See

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/is-epa-allowing-asbestos-products/?fbclid=IwAR2hhfuyctJZkiarsNFD4LSOk5OboXs5Rv2Q7xstHCeGBUr8YXgov0aSiA8

A second problem: having to explain to a conservative friend of mine that the process that confirmed Kavanaugh was an abomination and many Americans (possibly most) do not consider him a legitimate member of the Supreme Court.

I encourage you to join me in becoming a crank and exert pressure on your congressperson in a regular and timely fashion.  It only takes a few minutes every other week and at least you are doing something instead of just sitting there.


Blogger Problems

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Blogger has informed me that it is no longer reliably displaying features of this blog, but it doesnt tell me why or what to do about it.  I dont know what this means really but it must mean something bad.


Saturday, August 31, 2019

Losing Weight

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The medical checkup found nothing of concern beyond some vitamin deficiencies and of course I am overweight.  Can I really succeed at a diet?  Food is my number one mood elevating device.  Two weeks into it, I have the various scales, I have been working on limiting the number & size of portions and off schedule eating.  This looks like its going to be a lot of work.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

If By This Time They Dont Hate Trump

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If by this time, someone does not hate Trump and/or think that there has been important damage to the Republic and/or does not think that the Constitution has failed and requires significant changes, then I think it is very unlikely that you or I are going to change their mind.

Unless they have been living in a cave, cut off from the world, then they could only think that the situation was not serious because ...

(a) they only get their news from Fox News and that has got to be a conscious choice on their part, or

(b) they have important philosophical differences from us, and these differences are not going to go away because of anything we say, or any evidence that we show.  They have made up their minds, and that is that.

I mention this because I dont want you (or me) to waste our time arguing with such people.  

Furthermore, unlike the mainstream Democratic party, I dont think there is any point in pussyfooting around this issue.  You may as well take a stand on the issues and get to the heart of the matter.  Pretending to find a moderate center that does not exist is not going to win any elections.  Just ask Hillary.

Big Projects Small Projects

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In no particular order, projects that might make sense to do.

Image Asset Organization Software

Real time character software

 


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Error Checking Is Now Mandatory

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It is a fact of our lives here in the USA that we all, right or left, have to be more careful about our news sources if we care about truth and reality.  There are a variety of reasons why this has become critical but a few of them are:

1. Deliberate manipulation on the part of the right has destroyed the few mechanisms in place to keep the press honest.

2. Important elements of the press are deliberately and explicitly dishonest (Fox News, the WSJ, etc).

3. The internet makes it very easy to create false news and spread it.  It may be impossible to remove deliberate errors.

4. Foreign actors and their intelligence services are manipulating the news to their advantage.

5. Various political leaders, particularly on the right, are colluding with these foreign actors for their own political purposes.

But whether you agree with this or not, and no matter where you stand on the political divide, if you want to know what is going on and perhaps set some limits on any discussion, there are some straightforward if sometimes annoying things you can do.

Here is one suggested list.

1. When you are making an argument about something, try to keep a particular source for your point at your fingertips.  This source should be as much as possible a credible and undeniable point that can be verified.  For example, whether or not you agree or disagree with Trump's immigration policy, the NPR reported

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a Trump administration challenge of a lower court decision finding that the government failed to offer detained minors safe and sanitary conditions as required by the 1997 Flores settlement.
 In 2017, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee found that the government was violating that settlement by not providing safe and sanitary conditions when it held minors in conditions that deprived them of sleep — cold and over-crowded cells – and denied them access to food, water and basic hygiene.
https://www.npr.org/2019/08/15/751634918/appeals-court-rules-detained-migrant-children-should-get-soap-sleep-clean-water

At this point, its not too relevant whether this is their (the Trump Administration's) policy.  What we are discussing is what a court ruled.

2. Beyond keeping objective sources at your disposal, you can check yourself if that is what the 9th US Circuit Court ruled.  You can do so by looking up their ruling online, or by using one of the fact checking services (more of these below).

3. If you feel that you do not have the skill or resources to check whether a story is true, you can use one of the two fact checking services.  These two services are politifact.com and snopes.com.  Use them.

4. If something remarkable has been printed, or is circulating on the Internet, you should be able to get corroboration from another source.  If it is only on rawstory.com or breitbart.com, and none of the other major services are carrying it, then wait a bit before you assume its true.

5. If you read something that is too good to be true (or the reverse), then be sure to check the sources even harder.  Likely it is too good to be true.

6. It is no longer enough to report something you heard that you believe is true, you have to have a source for it, a specific reference somewhere, that you can point to and can be refuted or confirmed.

7. Finally, it is not enough to point to a single piece of data without taking into account history and context.

This is just the start of what we have to do.  If someone is trying to make an argument and they dont have a source, and they dont understand the context, then you should tell them that you dont believe them as it is currently stated.  They wont like that but that doesnt matter anymore.


Saturday, August 10, 2019

From Roger wilson and Krys Smith


Krys Smith

If you’re reading this and you’re thinking that the ICE raid in Mississippi was justified because the 680 men and women apprehended, in your eyes, are here “illegally” and we “have the right to enforce our laws,” you should know the following:



1) The owner of the business in Mississippi who hired all of these undocumented persons uses a social security number verification system and he is the one who supplied his own workers with the fake numbers and fake documentation they needed. The employer is guilty of perpetrating fraud and identity theft but he is not being charged with these crimes.

2) *Further, the owner of the business was facing charges of sexual harassment and assault by several brave immigrant women who came forward to share their stories. The federal government knows this but they are not bringing charges against the owner of the business for this reason either. *

3) ummmmmmmm, the employer was found responsible of wage theft in the amount of 3.8 million dollars. Again, brave workers came forward to talk about unpaid hours of work and illegally docked paychecks. And they proved their case. But as you might have guessed the Federal Government is not charging the owner of this business with any wrongdoing here either.

WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY IS THE White House is not directing the Department of Homeland Security to make an example of this business owner by fining him and/or charging him because he is a major donor to the Trump presidential campaign?????!!
If you thought that the “swamp was being drained” you are sorely mistaken.
BUT WAIT, IT GETS WORSE......

The White House flew in the national director of ICE ahead of the raid in Mississippi and imported 600 ICE agents not stationed in that area. *****All of this constitutes an unprecedented expense of our taxpayer dollars. ****

And based on all available evidence the reason the White House and Department of Homeland Security justified this expense was they knew that they would receive viral media coverage by choosing to execute a raid of this scale in the wake of the El Paso shooting.

The Trump re-election campaign has already spent $17.2 million on digital ads. 2,200+ of these mention an “invasion of illegal immigrants.” And by rounding up 680 workers in the most public and publicized way possible the White House has, as it did with the 4th of July military parade, made the conscious decision to buttress and complement its campaign expenditures on our dime as taxpayers.
ICE did not select this raid site randomly. This worksite had been on their radar for a year. They knew with a great deal of anticipation that this raid would happen at this time. And that’s how they were able to get 600 agents shipped in and that’s why the national director was on the ground.
And yet they did not notify any child welfare agencies ahead of time.

They knew they were rounding up workers with kids who punch a time card. They knew they were not getting gang members or people who travel from place to place and are difficult to track. They knew they were going to take moms and dads away from their children (many if not most of whom are US citizens) right before the first day of school.

They knew they were going to leave children orphaned by conducting this raid but they never did anything at all to try and help those children.

And if all of that doesn’t make you sick to your stomach then consider the fact that there is no immigration court in the state of Mississippi. Immigrants in detention are not entitled to lawyers. They don’t get phone calls. If they lived in any other state their family members trying to find them would know which courts to call.

Anyone rounded up in Mississippi will likely end up in court in Louisiana or Tennessee.
But there’s no way of knowing for sure.


So again, you are taken at work. But your boss goes home and nothing happens to him. You can’t speak to or see your kids unless someone along the way possesses enough humanity to help you do so. Otherwise you have no lawyer assigned to help you, and you are not entitled to use a phone even to make a collect call. Because you’re not entitled to the same rights in the immigration court system as you are in any other court system, and your family doesn’t know where you are, or when your hearing is, chances are you’ll be deported.
\
If you don’t have family in the area who will fight to keep your kids, they will become wards of the state. 

They will end up in foster care.
And they’ll be scarred for life.
All because Donald Trump chose to steal your tax dollars and mine, and use them for his RE-ELECTION campaign.


And if you still don’t care because you’re so wretched and broken that you think your ignorance of immigration law justifies your belief that people need to “get in line” despite the fact that there are 185 visa types and each one has multiple “lines” and wait times. If you don’t know or don’t care that a Mexican with a PhD cannot win a Green Card in a lottery and will wait 23 years to be reunited with his family, while a Belgian high school dropout with a juvenile criminal record can win a Green Card in a lottery and reunite with his family in 3 years. 

And that these are the broken immigration laws YOU want to enforce when you chant “build that wall” and “send them back,” then please by all means enjoy that Make America Great Again hat MADE IN CHINA. 


And please by all means go fuck yourself.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Personal Choices in Our Little Political Disaster #1

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We are all bored with this.  Some people (me) think the issues are very important, others think it is a mountain of a molehill.  We dont really know how this how works out yet, but we have to make our choices and work with what we have.

So lets take this one step at a time.

Should I really call my representative so often?  Am I presenting myself as a crank? I know the different representatives keep a weekly poll of what their constituents say.  Thats not so bad.  So I am going to keep calling because (1) it indicates how seriously I am taking things, (2) it makes me feel better and that is no small thing and (3) I was not happy with some choices our representatives and government made in the past and this time I want to express my opinion.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Non Photo Real Galaxy



Siggraph Notes #2

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This was one of the better Siggraph's.  Many things were accomplished even if there was much more to do.

But at the end of the day, there are many questions about what, if anything, I should be doing to participate in this field.  It used to be that I could go to Siggraph and something would emerge.  No longer.  This is not Siggraph's fault but is a result of my circumstances combined with a very changed world.

I have done some of my best work in years, maybe ever, in the last year.  Does it matter?  Is it publishable?  Where?  What of the many possible projects should be next?  I so envy those with normal careers or those with a sense of mission or direction.  I only sort of have that today.  

What we need here is another leap of faith.
 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Less Politics

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Its kindof pointless to discuss politics these days.  Its just too depressing.  I am trying to be more positive and upbeat.

Impeachment or not?  Pence or not?  Am I a crank for calling my representative? 

A few notes:

1. All republicans are evil.  Global climate change, reproductive rights, tax cuts for corporations but remove "entitlements", merrick-garland-brett-kavanaugh-neil-gorsuch, voting registration, corruption of the judiciary, hillary's emails.

2. Democrats are weak.  Merrick Garland, failure to indict wall street, the hillary campaign, always talking about bipartisanship, failure to impeach.

3. Constitution has failed.  Failure to deal with electoral college, failure to deal with gerrymandering, failure to deal with voting registration, failure to deal with term limits for justices (or other solutions), failure of impeachment as a solution, etc.

Other notes to follow.

See how positive I have become!  I am so much better than I was.

Siggraph 2019 Notes #1

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I am trying to keep my notes to a terse minimum.  These are more reminders that detailed commentary.

1. Awards.  Denis Zorin of NYU and Donna Cox of NCSA / U of I both won awards.  I love both of these people.  Denis was exactly the same, my favorite Russian mathematician.  Donna in her talk revealed background I had not known. A woman who grew up in the period when few if any women had careers in academia and/or science.  Driven.  Visionary.  It makes sense.  Three of the awards recipients thanked Pat Hanrahan (who did not come to this year's siggraph).

The awards talks were, again, one of my favorite parts of Siggraph.

2. Best of Emerging, etc, was the tennis ball augmented camera picture taker.  A human alone did not have the reflexes.  But the camera with electrode worked great.

3. Geek Bar wins again.  The best way to watch Siggraph was on television.  That way you can move around check other things out, etc.

4. Pioneers Dinner.  Ed Kramer hosts and does a great job.  Short film on Scanimate.  Jeff Kleiser does main talk. Frank Vitz is prominantly mentioned.

5. People: Copper Giloth, Jane Veeder, Frank Vitz, Jeff Kleiser, Michael Naimark, Richard Hollander, Bart Gawboy, Kimball Thurston, Ray Feeney, Jim Houston, Audri Phillips, Maija Beeton.

6. The two people I know from UCLA Design were a no show.  But I did meet an interesting person on the faculty from Europe (when I find his name ...).

7. For some reason, the trade show floor was very productive this year.  Two different crowd/flocking software groups.

More later.

Friday, July 19, 2019

More Notes on the Failed Democracy

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First, how is it that ICE thinks it can use DMV / civilian databases to create a law enforcement, and obviously dangerous, face recognition technology.  W.T.F. are our elected representatives doing?

Second, the whole issue of the Trump moron executive keeping the secret cyber war policy from Congress is insane.  Stop this shit, guys, you are really annoying me.  


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Go Fund Me Results

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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

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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!

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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.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/send-michael-to-siggraph






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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?  



Tuesday, June 18, 2019

I Called My Congressman Again Today



I called my Congressman's office again today, I try to make them laugh. I pointed them to the front page of politico.com and suggested that any other president would be impeached (or at least it would be in motion) just for what is on the front page today. It wont do any good, I know, but it lets me feel better and hey, I know that they do add up what the phone calls from constituents say as some sort of informal poll, so maybe every little bit helps.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Riviera Theatre in Santa Barbara



Father's Day and Still No Picture

Its Father's Day and I still dont have a picture of Dad.  Elaine and I chatted and she says that she talked to my dad a few times and he had a nickname for her. Some Goddess.  She is trying to remember which one.

Thank you Elaine for cheering me up.

[Update: my friend Yayoi has found a picture and I will need to look at it and maybe process it first]

Thursday, June 13, 2019

What the Law Says

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply, himself or his agent, to any foreign government or the agents thereof for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 744; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(K), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Its Not Your Imagination: Things are Completely Crazy

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Nope you are not wrong.  The government is broken, the constitution failed, the judiciary is stuffed with right wing nuts, everytime Trump opens his mouth he begs to be impeached or arrested, and everytime he does that, some Republican violates any sense of integrity or reason and supports whatever insane thing Trump is using that moment to either make him feel better or to distract attention from his other crimes or to keep gaslighting his supporters.

At the end of the day, we have to accept that something like 40 % of the voting Americans (note, not 40% of all Americans, but of the pollster's best estimate of who will vote) are OK with this.  The Trump supporters are loyal for one of several reasons, the majority reasons being: 1. The are racists, or 2. They are stupid, or 3. They are lying to steal the money or 4. They are nutty Evangelical Christians.  Or more than one.

We are all tired of this shit.  But we have more to go before we can start cleaning house.  Its sad, I think the Russians achieved their goals of lessoning the faith that people of America have in their government.


Monday, June 10, 2019

My Facebook Progress

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The new policy is an old policy: avoid being so negative on Facebook. When people spread ridiculous stories I no longer pour cold water on them.  Who am I to tell them about reality and so upset their day and make them hate me?  What has it gotten me?  Nothing.  

But it has been hard, very hard to keep me from posting bad news or correcting stupidity. People dont want to hear it. 

A 15 year old invents a perfect test for cancer. Hardcore Republican delegates wont vote for Trump to be President at the Electoral College. All women will now vote progressive and that will be the end of the Republicans. R.E. Lee was a traitor who beat his slaves.  Anyone who supports Lee is a racist.

Good luck with that.  I hope you and your love ones depend on that cure for cancer that the 17 year old Muslim girl in Afghanistan invented.

 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Camping Test #2 at Ventana Big Sur

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As part of the Steve Gano memorial, I chose to camp in Big Sur and save $200/night.  The only camp grounds available were at the Ventana Campgrounds which are part of the incredibly glamourous and expensive Ventana Inn.  I had stayed at the Ventana Inn once 25 or so years ago and it had not been nearly so expensive but since that time it has been acquired by some ridiculous management company and now it is just for the 1 percent.  The camp ground however was merely $100/night and that was affordable and my best deal.

Various things were learned and it was a valuable if not entirely comfortable experience.  In no particular order: 1. It took about an hour to put up the tent, and that went well, 2. The tent worked although I was cold because I had too much ventilation, 3. I did not enjoy crawling in and out of the tent and plan to get a new tent with room to stand up, to walk into, and to have extra room around me, 4. I may or may not get a cot, 5. The sleeping pad was warm enough and comfortable but like everyone else I would always slide off of it and it was difficult to get things organized, 6. I needed much more battery life, 7. Damn bugs were attracted to any lights and they freaked me out, 8. The stove worked very well, 7. By far the best food was food that came in little packets you could boil and then dispose and also Top Ramen noodles, 9. I had lots of trouble finding things: too many things were in bags that looked alike, 10. It was annoying finding the bathrooms because they were not well marked until you knew where they were, 11. The closest bathrooms were for the elite and not the proletariat, 12. You bought tokens for hot showers and that worked well but there was no place to put your clothes or sit down, and yes 13. weird animals really liked that water. This is the countryside, after all. 

One completely unexpected issue: Big Sur has weird cell phone reception.  My campground had reception (it was part of the Ventana Inn, after all) but the Big Sur Lodge and other places did not. This was unexpectedly inconvenient.  How far we have fallen from grace!

But the worst issue was that I had tremendous anxiety trying to get to sleep and I dont know why.  This is the second time this has happened to me when on little test trips and I dont know what it means. In this case I happened to have my ADD/ADHD medication which I could misuse to get to sleep but that is not recommended even if it does work well.

In conclusion, it was a valuable test but we need to consider different equipment and more tests.  Possibly even resorting to staying at hotels and not camping most of the time.

The anxiety/medication thing is worrisome.


The Gano Memorial

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The Steve Gano memorial was organized by Gretchen Schwartz Gano and Kristee Rosendahl. They did a fabulous job and I learned a lot about Steve.  In attendance were dozens of people I knew but many times dozens more I didnt. It was Michael Naimark who pointed out that these were two nearly disjoint communities: alumni from the Architecture Machine Group and from the Apple Advanced Technology (Multimedia?) Group.

It was held at the Henry Miller Library, at the Nepenthe Restaurant, at the Big Sur Lodge and another place I dont recall.  I met some very nice people, most of whom I will never hear from again.  We had some small world phenomena.

Among the people I knew (or met there) include Peggy Weil, Jane Nisselson, Scott Fisher, Sally Rosenthal, Nancy Hechinger and Fabrice Florin.

The whole thing was very distressing to me.

Thanks again to Gretchen and Kristee for doing such a nice job.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Avengers Endgame Meta Review

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Being rewritten.

Spoilers for Avengers Endgame, of course.

Avengers Endgame has come and almost gone having left in its wake an astonishing number of rumors and reviews, not to mention a boat load of money.  When so many people see a movie, it is natural for some of them to like it and some of them to hate it.  I have read many of these reviews, at least the ones in English, and I have also read many of the speculation and rumors before the release. So I want to go over a few things before we get to the movie itself.

1. Many of the rumors and speculations that were published on the net were flat out fabrications. There is definitely some weird psychology going on here.  Maybe they are the moral equivalent of right-wing or Russian trolls who lie to get a reaction?  But if so, what is their motivation?  On a political topic it might make sense, but for a superhero movie?  Maybe they just want attention. Maybe "because they can".  I dont know.

2. Avengers Endgame is intended to finish off the first three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which, love it or hate it, has done very well for itself.  The point of this movie is to deal with a major cliffhanger involving the very fate of the universe (!) as well as tie up a number of loose ends and bring to a conclusion many character arcs created in the previous 22 or so movies. So far so good. What therefore is the point of someone reviewing this movie who has not seen any (or at least most of) the previous movies?  What is the point of someone reviewing the film who hates superhero movies?  In the former case they are not going to have a clue what is going on and in the latter case they are going to hate the movie because they hate superhero movies.

The point is, why waste our time?  We already know you are going to be confused or filled with elitist disgust or both, so maybe you could spare us this?  We get it already.  Your review could be maybe two or three lines.  Or maybe you could do us the favor of disqualifying yourself up front? No of course not.

3. Endgame is an imperfect but enjoyable movie.  For those who like their SF tight, this is not that movie.  The more you reflect on the "unsnapping", where people were and how they got to the field of battle, the less it holds up.  Pym particles in general and in specific (oh really, one vial of Pym and we transport an entire intergalactic army?  Hmmm).

4. But at the end of the day, they hit their marks, and some of that is brilliant. Thor and his Mother. The phone call from the wife.  On your left.  Captain America and his hammer.  For that matter, Thor retrieving his hammer. Avengers, assemble.  They are totally sincere which is not the case with the Star Wars abominations.

They deserve credit for their sincerity.

Its a superhero movie, kids.





Now Is The Time To Propose Your Project to Netflix

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Do as I say, not as I do.





Thursday, May 30, 2019

Ghosting Times Two


I have ghosted and been ghosted.  I have been befriended and unfriended.

I have decided to cut off contact with two long-term friends.  Both are interesting people, talented in their own way, and committed to living a life that has some integrity in ways that may not make them popular.  

One is a hard core right wing Republican who thinks that trolling "the libs" is fun. And I qualify as a "lib" and am therefore on the troll list. The other is a pure and extreme left wing ... something ... who does not know the very complicated history of a region but presumes to judge and does so with violent propaganda that I find offensive.

Let that be a lesson to me, no relationship is so strong that it can not be terminated.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Congressional Database and the Townhall Meeting


Apparently all our elected representatives, at least on the national level, have a database system to track their constituents.  They are required to select from a list of preapproved programs because of security issues.

I call my representative, Carbajal of CA 24, once a week to find out what his position is on impeachment and on removing rapists from the supreme court.  The phone is answered promptly and there is always a nice person who takes my message and says that someone will get back to me, but they never do.  

But this time it was different.  First, the nice person at the office told me that he was at a "townhall meeting" with Carbajal last March and that at the time that Carbajal was cautious on the whole topic but had not made up his mind either way.  That was not what I wanted to hear, of course, but it was helpful because the primary goal here was to find out what my representative thought.

Second, just for fun, I asked the person in my Congressman's office if he could tell how many times I had called.  And he could!  I had called 8 times plus today, for a total of 9.  

I think that this is mostly good.  They are supposed to keep track of what their constituents think, and it should be computerized in this day and age.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Anita and Willem Lijpers from Holland


On my way back from Big Sur, I stopped to look at an astonishing view and ended up talking to a nice person who was doing the same. Her name was Anita, and with Willem her husband, she was on a cross country trip. They are from Holland, they visited their son in Virginia, and drove across country ending in Los Angeles in a few days. These pictures do not do them justice. They flagged me down 10 miles down the road to offer me coffee. Isnt that nice? This is what I used to get from travelling, meeting new people. It makes me sad that I am unlikely to see them again. No, I dont know why they look so sad, but I think it is an artifact of my bad photography.




\


I so enjoyed meeting them and it makes me sad I am unlikely to see them again.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

What is the Value of Sponsoring Research Early

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Imagine the following situation.  A company is spun off of a major university computer science department.  The company has many core technologies, but it is primarily in the area of searching very large databases and machine learning. The key technology that enabled the success of this company was original to the graduate students when they were at the University.

But it turns out that this university was the recipient of decades of grants in these areas and others long before these areas were practical.  And because of those grants, the University had a stellar reputation and a faculty second to none, all of which was a benefit to the graduate students that started the company.

So.  Did that long term research, those grants long before it was practical, contribute to the success of this huge new company?  Or was that company sui generis and without any debt whatsoever (morally speaking) to those who came before? 

This question is not about money.  I couldnt care less about the money.  This question is about the intellectual history of the field and the value of doing long term early research.  

I thought I knew the answer, but a good friend with much better research credentials than I am likely to ever have says that there is no debt whatsoever.

 
 


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Remembering Those who Betrayed America


It can be very difficult to remember later the details of events like we are experiencing.  So I will from time to time write about these events/things/whatever even though I have nothing too profound to say about them.

One artifact of this collapse of the American government is that whenever something happens, there is some seemingly sane person who writes an editorial saying the most ridiculous things, but saying them with a straight face.  These editorials masquerade as news and are published straight faced in Politico, the Hill, the Wall Street Journal, Lawfareblog.

And they say things like this.  "The Russians didnt help Trump.  Obama betrayed us to the Russians, not Trump.  There are no grounds for the House to request anything from Trump. Mueller totally exonerated Trump."  

All of these things are lies, and they know it.  Why do they do it?  Here is one theory.  They are demonstrating loyalty so they can be appointed as a Federal Judge and then maybe the Supreme Court.  

It worked for Kavanaugh.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Avengers Endgame (almost no spoilers)

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I have seen this movie and I have read a variety of reviews online and I feel compelled to fill in some gaps for those who are, shamefully, basically completely ignorant of this genre of entertainment but feel compelled to write about it, or talk about it, endlessly.

First, this is a Superhero movie, people, so get a grip.  Its not poetry, and it is not independent filmmaking.  But what it is, rather than what you want it to be, is still very impressive.

Second, it is not a standalone movie.  It is an ensemble piece based on about 7 decades of a form of children's literature known as the comic book and a decade of two films / year based on that literature.   Some of these films are better than others, true.  It might be useful to you to understand something about that genre and these films before going to see this movie.

Third, as far as I can tell, the directors, writers and actors are completely sincere in their desire to deliver an entertaining movie that is the finale of that series of films.  It may not be perfect, but at least they are not crass which is more than I can say about the exploitation and insincerity I see over at "Lucasfilm".

There are many more things we could say here, things that I liked and did not like, etc.  But I will mention one last thing because it seems to come up a lot.  Resorting to a form of "time travel" (its more than that, but nevermind) is a mostly legitimate approach to the plot lines in this genre.  It is a peril filled narrative choice, however, and like any story that uses this device it is filled with paradox.  I didnt mind even if I was confused and had to suspend disbelief once or twice.

Like I said at the beginning, this is a Superhero movie.  Get a grip and go with it.

Avengers!   Assemble.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The 800 lb Gorilla of Setup and Payoff

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The 800 lb gorilla of "set up and payoff" is coming to a theatre near you on Thursday or Friday. Fan service of the type that audiences have loved since forever will be on display in this Marvel magnum opus. The test of character. The noble sacrifice. The desperate struggle to defend the innocent and right the wrongs that have so crushed the hope of billions. Sure that is the way it is in fiction. But how about real life? Will the Democrats stand up and confront Thanos whose evil and corruption in league with the Republicans, mutant and degraded lifeforms, so desperately need to be destroyed? 

Its sad, but I dont think so.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Internet Protocol (Not What You Think)

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Nobody knows how to be polite on the Internet.  What are the proper hours for email?  What are the proper hours for texting?  If I know you dont read email, but you dont want to be texted, then that means that you are essentially saying "dont contact me".  Fine, but what if I am supposed to be working with you.  Another person says "dont send me attachments" and gets angry when you do, but you did not know he had this rule (and no one else does).  Another person says "dont email me when you are angry" but I wasnt angry, but if you say that they get angry and accuse you of not caring about their feelings.

So everyone has their rules and they expect the other party to know them and to comply.

Is this reasonable?  Is this treating the other party with minimal respect, or is it just self indulgent and self entitled?  In none of the cases are my opinions or feelings on the matter sought.  I am informed "how it will be" and if I dont like it, I can stop talking to them.

Which ultimately may be the best solution.

Isnt it great how the Internet has made communication so much better?

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Donation to Elizabeth Warren

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I just sent another $50 to the presidential campaign fund of Elizabeth Warren.  She got out in front and called for the impeachment of that obvious traitor and criminal in the White House.  We need someone as president who has some balls.  Either Bernie or Elizabeth work for me as President, but I am rewarding Ms. Warren because she was not a coward like so many Democrats on this issue.  I encourage you to do the same.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/19/politics/elizabeth-warren-donald-trump-impeachment-proceedings/index.html