Sunday, December 17, 2017

Brave New World: Self driving cars and the Uber future

When will people admit the human brain functions as an excellent decision making organism?  Sure, the IBM supercomputer Watson defeats human grandmasters at chess but that game functions within a finite number of squares with proscribed manners of movement for each type of piece.  Real life involves an almost infinite set of decisions on a second by second basis.  As my old boss--John Marhoefer used to say, computers could never serve as toll collectors because collectors have to think instantaneously and even deal with people asking directions.

Or as I'd put it, you can't program a computer to deal with stupid.  Stupid is infinite.  People don't always drive with caution or obey rules of the road.   You can't program for what you cannot foresee.

Excellent example of car using Tesla Autopilot:

Joshua Brown's Model S after the crash.

[The driver of a Tesla Model S killed in a crash west of Williston, Florida, while using the car's autopilot feature was speeding, according to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board. 
Released Tuesday, the preliminary report determined that the Tesla was traveling at 74 mph on a Florida highway with a 65 mph speed limit when it struck a truck pulling a semitrailer. "System performance data also revealed that the driver was operating the car using the advanced driver assistance features Traffic-Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer lane keeping assistance," the report reads. "The car was also equipped with automatic emergency braking that is designed to automatically apply the brakes to reduce the severity of or assist in avoiding frontal collisions." 
"Traffic-aware cruise control" and "autosteer lane keeping assistance" are Tesla's terms for the components that make up its autopilot, a driver-assist feature that the company calls an incremental step toward self-driving cars. When a driver turns on traffic-aware cruise control, he or she sets the speed. The car then adjusts speed according to traffic conditions.]
https://www.buzzfeed.com/priya/driver-in-fatal-tesla-autopilot-crash-was-speeding
Unclear from the photo below, also from the Buzzfeed article linked above whether the truck in the picture below pulled out or turned in front of the Tesla.  In either case, the result came out the same.  The driver died.  The "automatic emergency braking" feature failed, evidently.
Where the Tesla hit the semitrailer.
National Transportation Safety BoardWhere the Tesla hit the semitrailer.
So Uber and Uber programmers of the company purport to transport us to a brave new world where we all jump in our self driving cars, program in a destination, and get whisked safely away while we read a book or something.
[But not so fast, says MIT professor Jonathan How. “It’s going to take a long time… There’s going to be an expectation where you see cars at more autonomous levels than Tesla, for example, in that time frame, but they will only start to appear in limited deployments.” 
Steven Shladover, of University of California Berkeley’s PATH (Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology) program, agrees: “One might be able to drive in an autonomous vehicle in a very limited set of conditions ... but to get to a vehicle that can get everywhere, that people can ride is all sorts of weather conditions, is not something that’ll happen in my lifetime," he says. "And I don’t think it’ll happen in your lifetime, either. 
Self-driving cars may not take over our roads by 2020, or even close to that, but they will become more and more prevalent in, How believes, “limited deployments,” like in certain cities, campuses, and airports. And while the world’s biggest tech and automotive companies run real-world tests to make autonomous driving a reality, these robot cars are going to drive slowly, cautiously — and make us a little carsick — until they can learn to drive like humans.]                                                                  https://www.buzzfeed.com/nicolenguyen/not-too-fast-not-too-furious-self-driving-uber-atg

In real life, people run red lights.  In Orlando, FL--where I lived--green lights meant little as people always seemed to try and make it through intersections at the last nano second of yellow traffic lights.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/carolineodonovan/heres-a-video-of-a-self-driving-uber-running-a-red-light

Not even the smartest smart car can predict a careless driver trying to make it across a 3 lane road when the first 2 lanes have stopped; although to practice safety on the road one ought to stop where the other 2 lanes did and peek around for someone trying to sneak across the road, which the autonomous Uber car in a Tempe, AZ, crash did not:
https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/tech/2017/03/29/tempe-releases-police-report-uber-crash/99797486/

So y'all wait for your utopian future of self driving cars on autopilot; as for me, I'll put my faith in my faulty fellow humans--and toll collectors.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

President Dump causes terrorism

So instead of bestriding the world as a Colossus, he cowers as a pipsqueak riven by doubts and insecurities,  Once again we see a man who stands for nothing, has no principles, and lets filthy money determine the worth of anything.  This mere man, with no beliefs and values, made his money with inherited wealth and little work used government grants for all his projects and now views himself as a self made man.

Hypocrite!

Fie on the on thee and your ill gotten gains and the office to which you've risen besides losing the popular vote by 2.86 million.  Only through the vagaries of the undemocratic and regressive electoral college did this ignoramus, this braggart and buffoon become the "leader" of this free country, forgetting he ought to become leader of all instead of his base, which disintegrates day by day as people see how hollow he stands, like a diseased elm rather than mighty oak, squandering the lives and very blood of OUR soldiers in a vain attempt to prove himself as commander in chief.

[Mr. Trump is redefining what it means to be president. He sees the highest office in the land much as he did the night of his stunning victory over Hillary Clinton — as a prize he must fight to protect every waking moment, and Twitter is his Excalibur. Despite all his bluster, he views himself less as a titan dominating the world stage than a maligned outsider engaged in a struggle to be taken seriously, according to interviews with 60 advisers, associates, friends and members of Congress.]
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/09/us/politics/donald-trump-president.html

He moves the embassy of the United States to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem with a stroke of a pen, forgetting the claim of Palestinians to the city as their capitol and ignoring the violence surely to follow.  Make no mistake; President Dummkopf engendered this latest round of violence between the dispossessed Palestinians and the occupying Israelis.

[Israeli security forces used lethal force against suspected attackers in more than 150 cases, including in circumstances that suggest excessive force and at times extrajudicial executions. Overall, between January 1 and October 31, 2016, Palestinians killed at least 11 Israelis, including 2 security officers, and injured 131 Israelis, including 46 security officers, in the West Bank and Israel. Israeli security forces killed at least 94 Palestinians and injured at least 3,203 Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel as of October 31, including suspected assailants, protesters, and bystanders, according to the United Nations....

Before her arrest, Abu Zneid told Al Jazeera the protesters were determined to "never give up".

"This is our country and we will save it," she said. 'We will save our capital and our sovereignty here in Jerusalem."

Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher, reporting from the protest in Occupied East Jerusalem, said a series of running confrontations erupted after Israeli security forces blocked a small group of protesters from marching.

"It started as a small peaceful protest, a handful of people who wanted to make sure their voices could be heard," he said.

"But their way was blocked and they were forceably pushed back by Israeli police and soldiers who said the protesters had no permit to march and they were blocking the road."

As crowds gathered by the side of the street, police sent in officers on horseback to break up the crowds, creating widespread anger and panic.

"The riders even used their whips. It really was quite frightening for the people standing here, watching these horse racing towards them,...

Israel's closure of the Gaza Strip, particularly restrictions on movement of people and on outgoing goods, continued to have severe consequences for the civilian population, separating families, restricting access to medical care and educational and economic opportunities, and perpetuating unemployment and poverty. Approximately 70 percent of Gaza’s 1.9 million people rely on humanitarian assistance....]   emphasis added https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/israel/palestine.

This will cause more terror attacks in the United States.  Nevertheless, the most heavily guarded man in the US fears not for his safety n..o.r. cares a whit about the safety of his fellow. citizens.


Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Christms miracle: a Democrat wins in Alabama, sanity reigns!

 [It is hard to get too intoxicated by a slim victory over an atrocious candidate, a suspected sexual abuser with bigoted politics, but Alabama, the Senate and the nation will be a whole lot better off with Mr. Jones than with Roy Moore. Alabama's deep-red politics argued against Mr. Jones's chances.]     https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/12/opinion/roy-moore-loss-alabama.html


[If the result was a huge embarrassment for the President it was a similar blow for his former strategist, Steve Bannon, who had become one of Mr Moore’s most outspoken supporters and who was hoping to use what he believed would be a victory in Alabama, to drive the momentum for similar so-called insurgent campaigns in 2018.]
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/roy-moore-loses-doug-jones-wins-results-alabama-trump-election-senate-latest-a8106826.html


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Neil Young/Promise of the Real: "Big Box Store," "Alabama"

Damn, I hate big box stores, those which have driven my local hardware stores out of business.  Thankfully, my local Ace hardware store in Orlando bought out and built upon the decades of good will and reputation of Branneky Hardware on South Orange Avenue.  It lies right by a Target where I have shopped at for foodstuffs and cheaper clothes





Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real – sometimes referred to as POTR – is an American rock group based in California.[1] The band consists of Lukas Nelson (vocals/guitar), Anthony Logerfo (drums), Corey McCormick (bass), and Tato Melgar (percussion). Lukas is a son of country music legend Willie Nelson.
The band backed Canadian musician Neil Young on his thirty-sixth studio album, The Monsanto Years, and the tour which followed.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lukas_Nelson_%26_Promise_of_the_Real

And damnit, Neil wrote in his autobiography that he received American citizenship.  HE'S AN AMERICAN. 

A Modern Prophet, The Nightwatchman: "The Iron Wheel"

Imagine that, a rock artist writes songs with a deep knowledge of biblical prophecy and absolute compassion for poor and downtrodden among us.

Tom Morello does not have to do this.  He could, as a seminal member of acts such as Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, sit back and count fat stacks of cash. Instead, he uses his guitar and voice to advocate for social change, to advocate for the poor.

Do you really think President Dump gives a shit about the poor, the homeless man who camps out in front of his palatial Trump Towers?

I think not.

Yet the current occupant of the White House stands not alone but as a symbol of the plutocrats who run our country.  They feed off greed and suck the very marrow from the bones of the working class.  People deeply understand this and perhaps this very resentment and and led a small fraction of voters in key states to give the  Electoral College: an undemocratic institution if ever there were one.

Hillary won the popular vote by 3 million; three million more souls voted for the female candidate than the male bully and braggart, the malignant narcisist



Those in the land with streets “paved with gold” who exploit workers to create their pseudo-paradise, and then choose not to share their wealth with the poor and needy, must realize God befriends the vulnerable. Ironically, this positive image from Revelation (“the street of the city is pure gold” [Rev 21.21]), a book concerned with socio-economic injustices (see e.g., 6.6), serves to identify those responsible for those very abuses.

6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds[a] of wheat for day’s wages,[b] and six pounds[c] of barley for a day’s wages,[d] and do not damage the oil and the wine!”  Revelations 6:6      
21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.  Revelations 21:21 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pearl Harbor Day

On this day in 1941, the Japanese Imperial Navy launched a tactically brilliant attack on the United States Pacific Fleet at dawn on Sunday morning, catching the American fleet completely by surprise.

American text books will usually describe the attack as a "sneak" or surprise attack.  The first description plays into the ethnic depiction of Asians as sneaky and untrustworthy.  Nevertheless, it also shows the danger of making decisions in a vacuum or without considering capabilities of opposing forces.  The Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration took as WWII approached a series of actions designed to keep the natural resources required for waging war: rubber, oil, and iron.

Japan, as an island nation, needed to import all resources necessary for war and viewed the actions of FDR as tantamount to a declaration of war.  So when the US ceased oil and gasoline exports to Japan in July 1941.  This and US refusal to meet diplomatic terms led the Japanese led to the Japanese fleet setting sail towards Hawaii.  Save for the fact American aircraft carriers had already sailed out on maneuvers, the Japanese might have won a strategic as well tactical victory.

By the same token, modern US leaders like President Dump overestimate the reach of American power and underestimate the possibility of adverse consequences known as "blowback") (Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire .)  Thus. moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem paints a target on every Americans' back across the world: bases, embassies, ships, and civilians.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tax Plan Might not Prove that Generous to Middle Class

Tax Reform has many authors if you make bank form it; none if your taxes go up.  Most middle class taxes will go up when the provisions of this bill expire.
For families with children, another big provision comes into play: the child tax credit. The Senate bill would double that credit to $2,000 per child. As a result, families with children would generally get a bigger tax cut, although the benefits start to phase out above a certain income — that’s why the cuts are smaller for families higher up on the earnings ladder. (This analysis is based on an interpretation of the tax bill that is being used by the Joint Committee on Taxation and many other economists. The bill is ambiguous, however, and there is an alternative interpretation that would be much less generous to lower-income parents.)  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/28/upshot/what-the-tax-bill-would-look-like-for-25000-middle-class-families.html
Following this lovely paragraph comes the most important words:People who pay a lot in state and
local taxes could see big tax increases.  (Emphasis in original.)

Until now, we’ve been focusing on the impact of the Senate bill on people’s taxes in 2018, when most households would get at least a small tax cut. But the situation would look very different a decade from now. That’s because in order to reduce the cost of the bill, its authors set essentially all of the individual tax cuts — the doubled standard deduction, the more generous child credit, the lower tax rates — to expire after 2025. But one provision that’s bad for taxpayers — changing the measure of inflation used for many tax calculations — would not expire. As a result, two-thirds of middle-class households would get a tax increase in 2027, and none — zero percent — would get a tax cut. (That’s what’s shown in the left-hand chart above.) 
Those figures, however, consider only how the bill would affect personal income taxes. Starting in 2019, the bill would also cut taxes on businesses. Unlike the personal tax provisions, the business tax cuts would not expire.
Edition for today of making complicated things simple; the rich get richer and the rest get poorer.

Republicans suck.

PS: "...many would pay more under the Senate bill."  (From article linked above.)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Taylor Swift, Get Married...

get married and have babies, or else you stand for what others want to perceive as Bad.

Really, why should people and the media care what her personal/political views are.  Really, if her songs make us wanna dance or tug at our heartstrings, what else matters?


Confessin: have never knowingly listened to Swift song.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Bloodshed (Updated)

But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood in my sight on the earth. 
- 1 Chronicles 22:8

3 guesses as to modern nation which closely models that described above?  Perhaps a great country built on bloodied backs of kidnapped slaves?

Could we say 'tis the country which unleashed the nuclear sword on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which although dread and terrible probably still killed less than the original sin of slavery?

Could we use the example of a country which fought 2 land wars in Asia: 1 which has not ended on the Korean peninsula and another where our Vietnamese allies became abandoned, the latter where US experts told politicians we could not win.

Or could we use the example of country which declared a global war on terror which will last for generations since we can't kill an idea?  This war recently claimed the lives of 4 American patriots in some homeless, misbegotten jungle.  Our leaders claim the right to blow anyone anywhere to bits, even Americana.

Whither our cival rights?  Whither the Constitution?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Primer on History and Communication

Way back when--when humans invented language or God created the first modern human (Homo Sapien) from Cro Magnon stock--we had to walk over to another to talk.

Then we domesticated animals and could ride over a distance and speak or deliver a message. This took some thought prior as one had to think of what to say or transcribe said message.

Men still invariably said the wrong thing to women or their mates yet still the human race survived.

With the harnessing of electricity, came the invention of the telegraph, and messages could get sent over greater distances which took some thought, more if having to write the message if for giving it to the telegraph operator--less if sent by telegraphists to each other, which latter state allowed the operators to shoot the fecal matter over greater distances which still took some reflection even to communicate "wassup" to the receiver on the other end, also allowing first recorded LOL message.

Then came the invention of the telephone, which enabled communication with no thought other than dialing some numbers: "Wassup?  Blah, Blah, Blah."

This gave us the ability to initiate communication over longer distances, with less thought except perhaps thinking of what to say on  "break up calls" if done caringly rather than coldly, the latter usually done by men; yet still the race survived even after "white supremacists" got invented to codify slavery.  One wonders whether this electronic invention advanced the species or detracted from it.

Then came the accursed invention of the computer and then progeny: ICBMS, messageboards, email,  hook-ups, intertubes, web pages, laptops (the latter 2 which allow dissemination of stupidity, obnoxious crap, and wry drollery such as mine over the whole wide world and even outer space.

One shudders and hopes and prays humans will survive and civilizations thrive even as we fear the whole damn thing will burst into flames made by ourselves.)






























Thursday, October 26, 2017

I Hate...

"Strategizing."

This turns a noun and turns it into a verb.

Not that i'm a grammar nerd--too many things to point to--but please leave a noun a noun instead of obfuscating English to sound educated and well-spoken but instead bastarding a fine language.

Happy almost Halloween.  When do Christmas lights come into play?

Monday, December 19, 2016

"Italian Monastery Seeks Savation in Beer

Praise the Lord and pass the beer!

They seem to have edged closer to my church, Lutheran.

[After the Oct. 30 quake, one of the few things left standing at the monastery was a small brewery, where for the past four years the monks have been making Nursia, a beer named for Norcia’s ancient Latin appellation.

Their brew may now be the salvation — symbolically, at least — not only of the monks’ sanctuary, but also of Norcia itself. This ancient walled city is a ghost town of ravaged churches and cracked palazzi, and is still struggling to recover from the strongest earthquake to strike Italy in 36 years.]

Praise the Lord and pass the beer!

Saved!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Washington Post Sinks HMS Trump: "Uniquely Unqualified"

WaPo tells the truth in this season of electoral madness:
The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance. To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions. Mr. Trump’s politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together. His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.  (emphasis added) https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/donald-trump-is-a-unique-threat-to-american-democracy/2016/07/22/a6d823cc-4f4f-11e6-aa14-e0c1087f7583_story.html