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

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Street Where I Live

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I have often walked down this street before.  But the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before.  All of a sudden I am several stories high, just to be on the street where you live.



Friday, April 19, 2019

Time to Crack The Whip!

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I contacted my Congressman's office twice this week.  The first time (really about the fifth time but the first time this week) was to ask what the position of my Congressman was on impeaching Trump.  The people who answer the phones are always the nicest people and they take a message, put me in the database etc.  The second time I called (this week) it was to tell them that I never, ever heard back and so I had to assume that Carbajal was a Trump supporter and that I would work to vote someone else into office at the next election. Of course you and I know that I have no such power, as an individual voter my influence on the political process is microscopic.  Nevertheless, the point I was trying to make was that there was no dodging this issue, no "smile and hope they dont notice" option.  People want to know where their elected representative stands on this issue.  Thats why they pay him the big bucks.  

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit / SBMNH

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The Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History hosts a once a month "astronomy party".  They have a fabulous 20 inch telescope in the dome and a variety of other devices of about 9.5 inches and more outside and helpful people by each one.

The event was well attended, perhaps 50 or more people of all ages.

There was certainly some light pollution and coastal haze, as we would expect, but it was still very entertaining and value added.

I also determined that the Planetarium has an Evans & Sutherland Digistar 5.





Its Called A Coverup (stupid)

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At the end of the day, people get the government they deserve.  The "guidelines" say that you can not indict a sitting president.  Really?  Who says?  Oh, the DOJ says, OK fine.  But the rules say you can not release publicly evidence of a crime if you are not going to indict.  Well, that makes a little more sense.

So if Mueller does not indict because of the rules, in spite of the obvious evidence of collusion, treason and obstruction, but then you do not release the evidence so that people can see what is discovered, well that is called a coverup.

Even if the report is released in full, which it will not be, the fact is that the FBI betrayed their country by failing to indict the treasonous piece of garbage that is Trump, his family and his enablers.  At the end of the day, the system failed and the country failed with it.

And those who make excuses for the system are enabling Trump.  That includes you, Nancy Pelosi.  You failed and took the country down with you.

Thanks, thats great, I really appreciate that.  Now people will attack me (the few who care) and say that I am wrong because I am angry.  Yeah, well, a little.  But mostly its not anger.  Its disgust and contempt.

Have a nice day, but the children in cages separated from their parents wont.  The men and women murdered in pain because of Gorsuch wont.  Kids, black, white, green or otherwise will grow up in an oppresive society. Poor women wont be able to get an abortion legally.  Pruitt went nuts destroying the environment but you didnt have the guts to stop him. 

What did you do to try and stop these people?

Friday, April 12, 2019

Jeff Vandermeer and the Next Novel


Jeff Vandermeer did one of his rare posts on Facebook.  I took this opportunity to tell him that "I was ready for the next novel, please".  And he replied "Soon, Michael, soon".  A small ray of hope in another wise dismal and self-destructive world.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Assange is Thrown to the Wolves

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Ultimately they could not protect their agent, Assange, from the forces of counter intelligence.  Everyone who matters has known that he is a spy for Russia, but if Russia exfiltrated him, it would blow his cover with the many people who still believe that he was a selfless fighter for freedom.  So they could not bring him to Russia, the way they did Snowden.  And ultimately he had to go to protect their more important agent in place, Donald Trump.  They can be confident that Assange will not confess his role with Russian intelligence, he will go to his death protecting his place in history even though it is a lie. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Not Angry, Exactly

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For those of you who thought I have been too angry or obsessed with the political issues, here is a correction. Whether I was originally angry or not, I am not now.  Now I am disgusted and contemptuous, that's better.  As for being obsessed, well, maybe.  Its not everyday that you watch your country descend into fascism while your friends and colleagues pretend everything is OK. I have ascended to a higher plane!


Sunday, April 7, 2019

The New Republican Argument

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Trump chief of staff Mulvaney says that the Democrats will never get Trump's tax returns and this is his argument:  1. Voters knew that Trump was not going to release his tax returns before the election.  (This is of course a lie, Trump said he would release his tax returns, but bear with me)  2. Voters elected Trump. (Actually it is not at all clear that Trump was legally elected). 3. Therefore, voters have legislated that it is OK for Trump to not release his tax returns, even if ordered to by a court. 4. QED

So in other words, he is saying something like this.  "You knew Trump was a criminal before you elected him.  You elected him.  Therefore he can commit any crime and it is legal".

This is an incredible argument.  There is no shame in these people.  There is no amount of hypocrisy that is too much for them.  This is why I say Republicans, all Republicans, are a cancer in our society and must be cut out.

[I checked with an attorney and yes, as I thought, the argument is nonsense.]



Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Note to Andy Who Lives in Berlin

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We have all had to self-medicate, each in our various ways. Perhaps when we read the glamourous histories of our favorite artists living through exciting times it did not occur to us how terrifying it must have been for them. And now for us. They may have indulged in wild sex, taking mistresses or lovers, writing short stories and plays, but we all do what we can. I write my blog, and I review the great movies of old, particularly involving the marvel cinematic universe. I read light-science about evolutionary behavior but avoid cosmology because it gives me a headache.

You are lucky to have excellent workers rights in Germany. And our friends Bart and Kimball are now in New Zealand. Dale Herigstad and Soren Ragsdale now are citizens of Great Britain. Many other friends and colleagues live in Vancouver or Hong Kong. Is there some hint I should be taking here?

You can not imagine what it is like to wake up every day and have to read about the crimes and insanity of Trump and the Republicans. The nightmare that would not end.

I am on edge to see Avengers: Endgame. They are doing a great job of hiding what will happen in this movie.

I just watched the FBI and the Dept of Justice betray America. Its really hard to come back from that.

Creation of the Humanoids! Terrified me as a kid.  I cant wait to see it again.  Yes, it is the small cultural contribution of Youtube.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Behringer Customer Support

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I just spent 15 minutes figuring out how to ask Behringer in Germany for information on the USB interface to their Xtouch Mini.   They make it as difficult as possible.


Saturday, March 30, 2019

Democratic National Committee You Have Got to Be Kidding Me

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The DNC just asked me for money.  After the way they treated Bernie Sanders in 2016?  After the recent rules prohibiting candidates like AOC.  After their failure to do the minimum necessary to deal with Trump (get his taxes, demand he resign, call for an investigation of the FBI), this is just a joke.

You want money?  Do something good for a change.

In the meantime, I will send money to Warren, Sanders and AOC.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Horrible Situation

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Trump, Pence, Kavanaugh, Nunes, McConnell and others should resign and we should have a complete review of why the FBI betrayed their country.

I personally think that Trump will be reelected because the Republicans are corrupt and the Democrats are stupid and weak.


Monday, March 25, 2019

Camera Purchase Notes 3/25/2019

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Too many choices, it is confusing and unclear which path to take. And be sure that whatever path you take (nearly) forever will your destiny be affected.

Intended use: generating imagery to support computer graphics (textures, macro photography, plates), also handheld available light photography, also low light architectural photography (urban archaeology)

Prime lenses only, shooting aperture priority, no flash, manual focus.  Probably a roughly 50 mm equivalent, a 21 mm equivalent, and possibly a macro lens.

Remote and programmable computer control preferred.  If a Fujifilm body, then possibly the two Zeiss lenses.  

 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Global Climate Change?



Anyone else notice that the predictions for global climate disaster keep getting closer and closer. It used to be in the indefinite future, now its more like 2050. Well, 2050 is right around the corner. You and I may have kicked off but your kids are likely to still be here. And boy, are they going to be mad! Ha ha! Ooops!

Dear Google Maps!

Found the feedback button on google maps!  Yeah!

I was in Joshua Tree, CA during the recent blizzard and Google Maps INSISTED on taking me off the main road and down some side roads which were closed off and covered with snow. I got stuck and would have died if some local people were not there to help people get unstuck who had been sent there by Google Maps. I guess you guys are not too smart. Maybe you want to fix this, I dont know.

Google Maps took me "The Turnpike Roads" in Orange county on my way to Laguna Beach. Turnpike Roads tried to extort several hundred dollars from me because I used their toll road. FIX THIS RIGHT NOW. Do not take people down that road. If this happens again I will sue you assholes.

[Of course I will not really sue Google, but I wanted to indicate how mad I was at being forced to interact with the criminals at The Turnpike Roads.]

Planetarium in Santa Barbara


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The Museum of Natural History has a planetarium!  And a 20" telescope in their observatory!
The Monseignor has said that I can spend 1 day a month outside my crypt helping them in the planetarium!






Contact Google Maps?

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Does anyone know how to send feedback to Google Maps? In the last few months they have (a) tried to kill me and (b) worked with Republicans in Orange County to steal several hundred dollars. Is this deliberate or (more likely) just stupid programmers?

Friday, March 15, 2019

Three Test Images for the Dome in Arnold

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One image made with a fisheye lens whose field of view is 180 degrees, one whose fov is 270 and one whose fov is 360.  The "Arnold" watermark is there because I have a demo / unlicensed copy.

These images were fast to compute and trivial to technical direct.

Special thanks to the nice people at Solid Angle for helping me out.
 






Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Feral and Venom in Santa Barbara

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I am walking to my local pharmacy, CVS.  I go in the back way, talking on my phone, as usual, in this case about superhero movies and stereoscopic conversion.  I say that some of these movies are too dark to be great in stereo and trying to think of an example, someone says "Venom".

She is working in the back of the store, attractive some would say, that is if you like hot, slender women with 1/2 " hair that has been bleached white, skintight jeans, ritual scarification, and excellent knowledge of the Marvel superhero cinema.

We agreed that the relationship in Venom between the antihero (youre a loser, eddie), the ex-girlfriend and the symbiont ("I like her."  "This may be the last chance you might have to apologize to her") is charming.

Her name is Feral.  She talks to me three different times while I am at the store.  I practically run away.  When was the last time I actually talked to a non-gender specific girl type person who I might ask out?  Long, long ago, in a different life.

I hope she works there, I might be able to see her again.

If I was in a playwriting class, I would write this up as a skit.


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Democrats Are Too Afraid

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We are back at the same old issue. Democrats too afraid to take a stand on principle for fear of ... fear of ... fear of ... what? Rousing the Trump base? I have bad news for you, the Trump base is not only aroused, they are never NOT aroused. I like Nancy Pelosi, I am not too stupid to understand what she and Shumer (whose name I can never spell) are talking about. But my patience with these people is over. I expect the Democrats will nominate Biden, I expect that Biden can win over Trump. Who cares?

Yes, I know what is going on.  I know what Pelosi is thinking, and why it makes sense.  But I am a little broken issue on this issue.

Sad!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Steve Gano

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A good friend recently passed away, unexpectedly.  Steve Gano was a graduate of the Media Lab and a mutual friend of dozens of people I know.  Very sad.  Very sudden and unexpected.  




Friday, March 8, 2019

Captain Marvel.... Dont Ask Dont Tell?

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I am having a complicated (aka "meh") reaction to Captain Marvel.

On the positive side I should make it clear that the opening night audience in Santa Barbara had no reservations, they liked this movie. Second, this is certainly some sort of solid representation film with standout feminist and pro-cat sensibilities. But is it really that solid if we have a "dont ask dont tell" situation going on here?  A very strong cast, but to what end? I saw it all coming a mile away. Carol Danvers/Brie Larson is hot in her BDSM-inspired latex onesie, or whatever that was.

At the end of the day, this felt more like a classic movie for TV but repurposed for the big screen. I think it could have told a very similar story but been much stronger.




Notice that they carefully look away from each other... Oh no, we are not in the closet, not us!

But then I realized, after a day's thinking about it, that this is perfectly in period, It would be an anachronism for two gay women in the USAF to come out.  It would hurt their careers at the very least.  So of course they would be in the closet.  So in retrospect, this is an entertaining nuance.
 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Corrupt American Justice System

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The sentencing today of Manafort convinces me that our legal system is in denial about what is going on here.   The system failed again and there is very little chance that relying on a corrupt and failed system like ours will result in justice.  A black kid who steals food would be given more prison time than Manafort received.  

Dont these people understand what is going on?  No, I guess not.


Monday, March 4, 2019

GAN Generated Rainforest Flower Images

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Generated by a variation of a GAN from rainforest flowers as suitably modified.

Assume that these images are used in a large rendered scene where the textures are also used to generate suitable geometry.

[3/19/2019 Notes: Back in the day, this would have been enough to get me into many magazines and get lots of publicity!  Not anymore!  Now I must walk the path of ascetic renunciation of all worldly fame!  Sad!]









Liza Keith Memorial March 3, 2019

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Memorial for Liza Keith at Restaurant Hama in Venice on March 3, 2019.




Allen Battino, Phillipe Bergeron, Joseph Goldstone, Jerry Weil


Darnell Williams (Rosa Ferrer is waiting out in the car)


Donna Tracy, Di Piepol, Debbie Goydos Nelson


Reid Baker


Picture of Liza Keith (on the right)


Aliza Corzon Chaimedes, John Nelson, Scott Anderson


Jane Stefan and Jimbo Hillin


Tom Lynnes and Joan Collins


Scott Anderson, Jimbo Hillin, Donna Tracy, Mark Hardin


Scott Anderson and Aliza Corson

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Naming a Project is So Annoying

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If at first you walk down the dark path, forever is your destiny affected.  What you name a project may indeed be changable later, or it may not be.  So, choose wisely.

A piece of software to assemble various elements to create a single render stream for an image shall be called ... what? 

Contenders (to be updated)

    Opaque
    Wedge
    




Sunday, February 24, 2019

Short Trip to Joshua Tree (postmortem)

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Instead of just hauling ass down the road for a month or two, I decided to start off slowly and do a few day trip to Joshua Tree.  Many interesting things were learned and here is a list of a few of them.

 1. Check the weather.  We had a record setting blizzard during the exact time I chose to go.  It was exciting but maybe not the best choice.  For the kids and adults of Joshua Tree, this was a peak experience.  They had not had a snow storm like this for at least 11 years, according to one native.





2. Many exciting new symptoms seem to be present when I travel when sick, without the usual medication and in a blizzard.  Memo to File: Do not do this again.

3. Just a little further down the road from Joshua Tree is a 24 hour medical center.  The staff was very nice to me and let me hang out until I felt better.  They were particularly impressed with the blizzard. A reminder that even medical workers on the night shift can act like big kids.




4. The Safari Inn was a perfect little motel for a great price.  

5. The Crossroads Cafe was very good and I immediately fell in love with the hostess.

6. The mexican restaurant is just so so, but it is open 24 hours which is nice.

7. Google Maps does not check the weather when giving directions and nearly got me killed.  

8. Joshua Tree is really nice when there is a foot of snow dumped on it.

9. Azuza, CA apparently stands for A - Z in the USA.

10.  CalArts is right on the way to Joshua Tree if you take the Santa Clarita route.





11. Its important to pack critical items (like vitamins, medication, food, etc) in a place where you can trivially find them in your car when you are sick, havent slept for 24 hours, you are in the middle of an amazing snow storm, and everything in the car has been shuffled several times.








Other Notes:

12.  The wind farm on the way to Joshua Tree is really interesting.  Plays on size and scale.





13. There is a nice donut store back up the road from Joshua Tree in Yucca Valley.