Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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Silicon Forest
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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Good Morning


What They Don't Want You To See. Boston Dynamics and AI.
Digital Engine

Our new robot overlords are coming. We can hope they will be benevolent, but as long as they are controlled by people, some will not be. 

Meanwhile 'there is a shortage of workers' but we've got zillions of people out of work. This does not compute. There is something very wrong here. I have all kinds of ideas about what could be the problem, but if I think about it, none of them make much sense. I see homeless encampments short distances away from places offering employment. Could it be that once people become adults their trajectory becomes very hard to change, and if the job they had disappears they just can't adapt to a new one?




Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Nord Stream 2

Nord Stream 2 pipelay vessel near the German island of Rügen. Photo: Axel Schmidt/NordStream2

Nord Stream 2 is a pipeline for transporting natural gas from Russia to Germany. It's been under construction for a while. The US is opposed to it for some reason. I read a story the other day that said this pipeline was the reason the US was pushing Ukraine to confront Russia. Note US warships in the Black Sea. RT has a story that explains what is going on. Yes, I know, RT used to be Russia Today and is almost certainly Putin's mouthpiece, but they seem to be fairly balanced unlike the stories that come from US press, which seem to be stuffed with inflammatory hyperbole.


Does Not Compute


The REAL Answer To The Viral Chinese Math Problem "How Old Is The Captain?"
MindYourDecisions

Presh Talwalkar emphasizes clarity in his speaking voice over smoothness which means listening to him is not as pleasant as it could be, but then there shouldn't be any confusion over what he is saying, which is kind of important when you are dealing with something as persnickety as math.

He must have a zillion videos up on YouTube. Most of them are straight up math problems. This is the first one I have encountered that veers off into psychology. The math problems that he posts range from trivial to esoteric. I like the mid-range ones, though I am sometimes mistaken in my initial impression and find after working on it for a few minutes that I am not going to be able to solve it without digging up some obscure mathematical knowledge.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Head Banging Aliens


Eiffel 65 - Blue (Da Ba Dee) [Gabry Ponte Ice Pop Mix] (Original Video with subtitles)
Bliss Corporation

Just because everybody needs a little head banging. From 1999.


Gun Rights Cake

Handwaving Freakoutery has posted the Gun Rights Cake cartoon. I tried to steal it and post it here, but Blogger can't handle long images and I am too lazy to cut it up an post it in pieces. You can see the cartoon all by its lonesome here. It's pretty great. You can read his post as well, but it doesn't really contain anything new. And it doesn't matter anyway, because the battle is not being fought over ideas, but with emotions. The other side doesn't really care if they win or not as long as they can get their faces on the news along with stupid little sound bites about how they are for gun control and abhor violence. It's a stupid fight and it is going to continue as long as emotional people are easily manipulated, which means forever. Great. Another Forever War. I for one will welcome our new robot overlords, if they ever bother to show up.

A little digging reveals that LawDog authored Gun Rights Cake:

I hear a lot about "compromise" from your camp ... except, it's not compromise.

Let's say I have this cake. It is a very nice cake, with "GUN RIGHTS" written across the top in lovely floral icing. Along you come and say, "Give me that cake."

I say, "No, it's my cake."

You say, "Let's compromise. Give me half." I respond by asking what I get out of this compromise, and you reply that I get to keep half of my cake.

Okay, we compromise. Let us call this compromise The National Firearms Act of 1934.

There I am with my half of the cake, and you walk back up and say, "Give me that cake."

I say, "No, it's my cake."

You say, "Let's compromise." What do I get out of this compromise? Why, I get to keep half of what's left of the cake I already own.

So, we have your compromise -- let us call this one the Gun Control Act of 1968 -- and I'm left holding what is now just a quarter of my cake.

And I'm sitting in the corner with my quarter piece of cake, and here you come again. You want my cake. Again.

This time you take several bites -- we'll call this compromise the Clinton Executive Orders -- and I'm left with about a tenth of what has always been MY DAMN CAKE and you've got nine-tenths of it.

Then we compromised with the Lautenberg Act (nibble, nibble), the HUD/Smith and Wesson agreement (nibble, nibble), the Brady Law (NOM NOM NOM), the School Safety and Law Enforcement Improvement Act (sweet tap-dancing Freyja, my finger!)

I'm left holding crumbs of what was once a large and satisfying cake, and you're standing there with most of MY CAKE, making anime eyes and whining about being "reasonable", and wondering "why we won't compromise".

I'm done with being reasonable, and I'm done with compromise. Nothing about gun control in this country has ever been "reasonable" nor a genuine "compromise".

LawDog

Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Young adult, near future, science fiction. I picked it up at my son's house because I wanted something to read, this one was lying right there in front of me and I had previously read The Windup Girl by the same author and I remembered that one being pretty good.

The world has changed, the seas have risen, New Orleans is underwater, but a city of a sort has grown up on what's still sticking above the water. Plus it's still a port, all the scrap metal from the shipbreaking business gets sent there on a train.

Shipbreaking (the business of taking apart old, worn out cargo ships and turning them into scrap metal) is now being done on the Gulf Coast by a savage crew of desperately poor people. Nailer, our hero, is a boy working on a light crew. These are the guys who go in and strip out all the light weight stuff, like wiring, before the heavy crew gets to work taking apart the hull.

It's a young adult novel so it's fairly simple-minded. A quick, easy and enjoyable read. There are a few science fiction-y bits. We have half-men walking around which are some kind of genetic hybrid of man and animal predators, used by those in charge for enforcement and protection.

Then there are the sailing yachts that the rich and powerful use to get around the world. These boats are overgrown versions of the racing sailboats we have today: carbon fiber hulls, hydrofoils and special sails. The sails are a bit of a trick. They use cannons to launch parasails into the stratosphere where they pick up the jet stream and drag the boats at impossible speeds. Being as the jet stream is several miles above the surface, you would need a pretty big gun to get to that height. But maybe they shoot rockets. We have guns that do that now. And you would need some super-strong lines to be able to reliably reach that far without having to carry reels that would sink your boat. That seems like it might be doable in the not too distant future.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Tyranny, Science and Stupidity

Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant on April 10, 2021 © AFP / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY


Whenever something like this happens in Iran, I am divided over whether it was stupidity, sabotage or Israel. We all know Iran's avowed objective of destroying Israel, so I wouldn't be surprised if the Jews were behind this 'attack'. Sabotage is equally likely, there is a sizable contingent in Iran that is not happy with the current theocracy. But then I am also reminded of this quote:
"Dictatorships foster oppression, dictatorships foster servitude, dictatorships foster cruelty; more abominable is the fact that they foster idiocy." - Jorge Luis Borges 
(I like this quote so much this makes the fourth time I've posted it.)

While we can be reasonable certain that the people working on Iran's nuclear project are imbued with the correct ideology, but they might not be sharpest, technically speaking, and they just made a mistake.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we've been watching this South Korean series on Netflix. It's about equal parts drama and action. There are big dramatic pauses (that seem to be the stock in trade of soap operas) that make our heroes look like idiots, but they manage to mostly succeed (thanks to the script). The villains on the other hand are constantly reassuring the big-wigs that the situation is under control, the problem will be taken care of, and then in spite of having all the resources you could possibly need, failing. Does 'curses, foiled again' ring any bells. It's great to see them fail, but it makes me wonder, could any organization be that stupid? The answer is yes, which means this show might be more realistic than I think.

So tyranny fosters stupidity. How is it then that the Soviets manage to outpace the USA in science and technology during the cold war? Maybe their recent experience in WW2 bound them more tightly to their socialist religion. Iran has been a divided country ever since I don't know when, maybe when the first Shah came to power? Or maybe Iran's secret police are not as zealous as the KGB.