Monday, October 18, 2021

Please Note

I won't be posting until next Tuesday. I'll explain what's happened then. I have so little free time right now that even posting these three sentences is a luxury. Take care.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Help, Please

If you work for Microsoft or Google and would like to help me understand something, please email me. I may not get back to you immediately, but I will before the end of the day. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

PSA

It's been a long time since I didn't post for a week--over a decade, at least, if I've ever done it at all--but this may be the week. I've got a family emergency (not Eli) and it needs my full attention. I'll try to drop in if I can, and I'll do my best to at least get the Friday Links post done. 

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, a stunning development in treating depression: Brain implant relieves patient’s severe depression in “landmark” US study.

This is also excellent: Physics Nobel goes to complexity, both general and climatic

This is extremely clever: There was an attempt to stop the use of backpacks

DQ Artist Fredrik Skarstedt sent in this wonderful link: The crane that fell for her keeper

From Wally, and good grief, people just throw their money out the window: Investors Spent Millions on ‘Evolved Apes’ NFTs. Then They Got Scammed. So strange: Hundreds of three-eyed 'dinosaur shrimp' emerge after Arizona monsoon. Badass of the week: Hero Goat Saves Chicken from Hawk Attack

From Jonathon W., and it's a Disney nerd alert: Mapped: The 50-Year Evolution of Walt Disney World

From Mark H., and these will get better: AI movie posters. These are tremendous: 2021 Finalists: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Stellar links from C. Lee, as always. First, and it's fascinating, it's Sparta Was Much More Than an Army of Super Warriors. This is an astonishing story: When Injury Killed His Humble Dream, He Built a Whole Miniature World Instead. I had no idea: Who Was the Real James Bond? This is an excellent enhancement: Google Maps tracks global warming with new “Fire” layer, Tree Canopy tool. These numbers are incredible: Visualizing a minute on the Internet in 2021. A true innovator: Japanese Twitter falls in love with lifehack for making perfectly neat but stuffed sandwiches.

Facebook

Some nasty shit about Facebook came out this week. 

Facebook was already mired in it, really, but this just confirms what many of us already believed. Here's the money quote (Facebook “is tearing our societies apart,” whistleblower says in interview):
...a significant change the company made in 2018 to the News Feed algorithm, which prioritizes the content that is shown to users. Those changes, she said, pushed divisive content to users because that’s what drove engagement and profits. “Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, they’ll make less money,” she told CBS.

You'd think that after a serious accusation like that, Facebook would respond with imaginary concern. Nope. They did this, instead: 
Facebook’s vice president of policy and global affairs, Nick Clegg, sent a lengthy memo to employees in advance of Haugen’s interview, claiming that social media in general and Facebook in particular are not responsible for rising political polarization in the US and elsewhere. “The idea that Facebook is the chief cause of polarization isn’t supported by the facts,” Clegg wrote.

I read that quote, and I had a realization: Facebook is this era's Philip Morris. 

You remember Philip Morris. No matter how many scientific studies came out linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer, Philip Morris put out a blanket denial, never conceding the most insignificant point (yes, insert your political joke here). They had an army of scientists running dubious "studies" to muddy the water. 

And they did it because they were making billions of dollars, and in this country, making billions of dollars is its own morality. 

Facebook is the same. No matter how many studies come out (they're not hard to find) indicating that Facebook has significantly increased polarization, they'll just say the studies were poorly designed and aren't conclusive. Buying time to pump that money machine a while longer.

Self-reflection? Morality? That's for suckers. 

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Oxford!

Eli 20.2 called yesterday and we had a nice talk. 

It's all going great, which is not surprising. He's at what's considered to be the friendliest college at Oxford (Oxford has a bunch of compartmentalized colleges, with about 600 students in each), people are nice, and he couldn't be happier. 

Plus, a surprise, which I'll tell you about next week. 

Here's some pictures:




The last picture is from a little breakfast place near campus that looks very plain on the outside, but if you go through to the back, it has this amazing patio. 

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Eli 20.3 Makes His Flight

He made all his flights, actually. And he made it through customs. and he made it to Oxford, to the university, and to his dorm room. 

As hard as it is to believe, Eli 20.2 (who I started writing about when he was Eli 1.0, believe it or not) is at Oxford. 

It felt so strange the day after he left. I was having a totally normal day, and he was halfway across the world, and absolutely everything he was doing was brand new and so exciting.

I'd just seen him the day before! 

I'm hoping this will be as great an experience as everything else has been for him in his life. I told him before he left that while we've had so many adventures together, and keep having new ones, I was so happy that he gets to go have his own adventures now, ones I never had, and I get to hear all about them. 

I'll put up pictures when he sends them. 

Monday, October 04, 2021

Better Late Than Never

One of the things I've been working hard on is trying to understand why I react the way I do in certain situations. 

There are times when I react to something like I did when I was 20. Or 30. 

I mean, I still feel like I'm 30 sometimes, but damn, I'm not. I'm an old-ass 60 now. But I'm still reacting like I was back when I was a totally different person, in what was really a different life. Why would I do that?

I remind myself that I'm a different person now--and I am--but it's hard to respond as you are now, instead of how you've always been. 

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, from John W., a longstanding discussion finally put to rest: Should you fold or wad toilet paper? A physicist settles the discussion for good.

This is fascinating: Study confirms superior sound of Stradivari is due to how wood was treated

From Wally, and it's an even more entertaining way to get sick now: New cruise ship to feature world's first free-fall dry slide at sea and a three-level racetrack. So many unanswered questions here, but probably better not to ask any of them: A gravestone missing for almost 150 years was being used as a marble slab to make fudge. This is outstanding: Family Guy COVID-19 Vaccine Awareness PSA

From Chris Meadowcraft, and these are absolutely beautiful: Ocean Photographer of the Year 2021 winners – in pictures.

From David Gloier, and it's the deepest of all deep dives: A Tunguska sized airburst destroyed Tall el-Hammam a Middle Bronze Age city in the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea

From C. Lee, and it's terrific (This American Life): 748: The End of the World as We Know It. These are stunning: Smallest Flying Structure Ever Made Inspired By Storybooks and Seeds. Seizure laws are incredibly problematic: FBI says fortune seized in Beverly Hills raid was criminals’ loot. Owners say: Where’s the proof? This is a wonderful, happy story: How Ring Fit Adventure Transformed the Lives of Those Who Beat It.

Due To An Unexpectedly Lengthy Purchase, This Will Be My Only Comment Today

Joseph Conrad never tried to buy a cellphone. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A Competitive Match

Eli 20.2 was an overwhelming favorite in The Open Championship. 

He hits the ball 70 yards further on his drives than I do. He's a better putter. He's a better player than I am in every conceivable way. 

We were tied going to the 18th hole. 

"It was always going to be like this," he said. "We could play seventy-two holes, and we'd still be tied going to the last one." 

He's right. Somehow, when we're officially competing, I'm not sixty years old anymore, at least for a little while. 

Everything hurts today, though. Back, shoulder, hip, foot. 

In the six holes of straight golf, he was 1-up. In the six holes using one club of our choice, I was 1-up. I birdied the first par-4 of that stretch using only my 7-iron, including a 35-foot putt, left-handed, with the back of the club. 

I didn't even watch it go in. I was watching Eli's face. It was awesome. 

Incredibly, for the middle six holes when we were each only using one club, our best score on each hole was a combined +1. And I was only +4 for six holes with that 7-iron, which I had a hard time believing. 

The last six holes, we each chose a 4-iron for the other to play with. Impossible, basically, and we both struggled. Hitting partial shots with a 4-iron (which has very little loft) are unbelievably difficult. 

I'd like to say I had a brilliant last hole, but I didn't. Eli did, though. He parred it with a 4-iron. The kid is clutch. 

What a great round. And we both played so well, even though we both really wanted to win. 

A nice end to the summer. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

A Delicate Dance

We tee off at 2:00. I called at 11:20. 

"Hey, do you want me to pick you up at 12:30 and we can have some lunch before we warm up?" I asked. 

"I'm already on the range," he said.

"You're not at the range," I said. "You're at the house."

"Am I?" he asked. "Did you not hear me hit that ball?"

"You didn't hit a ball."

"Didn't I?"

"Let the mind games begin," I said. He laughed. 

When I pick him up, I'm going to tell him I've been controlling my breathing for the last six hours.

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