Old Reservoir Dog

Playing with photo editing tool called Tonality. One of the effects gave my ghostly visage some color it has never had. A bit startling. I’m sure an experienced Photoshop hand can create effects like this all day long. As an amateur, it’s fun to have tools like this.

Legislative Influence Detector; ClaimBuster

“Researchers at the University of Chicago’s Data Science for Social Good programme have created the Legislative Influence Detector. This scours the text of US bills, searching for passages that have been cribbed from lobbyists or the legislatures of other states. To get the real story behind a bill, the software digs through 500,000 state bills, as well as thousands of pieces of text drafted by lobbyist groups that were saved into a database. An algorithm then calculates the top 100 documents most relevant to the bill in question before examining each one more closely, searching for passages the two have in common.”

“At the University of Texas at Arlington, computer scientist Chengkai Li is building a system to fact-check the statements of politicians in real time. The ClaimBuster, as he’s calling it, will study work done by human fact-checkers and, with the help of machine learning, start automating some of that process. Li envisions a final platform that can scan through the transcript of a speech or presidential debate, picking out the lines that we already know to be true or false so journalists can work on checking more complicated claims.”

Full story »

Maya by Ray Alez

“The only thing that I have ever known was void. You could say that it surrounded me forever since there was no time before I created it. At first all I was was awareness, just the sense of consciousness with nothing else. Gradually, I started to think thoughts in the midst of this void. I’ve made up time and space. And once I was thinking in this emptiness I got horribly bored. So I’ve turned my thoughts into figures and images. I’ve imagined light, which turned into stars and galaxies and later – planets. And thus Maya was born.”

“On one of the planets I have created animals and humans, just in one whim of my desire. I could simulate the whole history of this universe starting with the Big Bang, but I didn’t bother, waiting for billions of years would be too boring, besides the time was made up anyway, so I’ve just skipped right to the interesting part – the year 1983, the moment my imagined humans invented the internet, and started their race towards singularity.”

“After a few years I got bored of observing this planet from the outside, so I’ve decided to jump in and play. I’ve made myself a human body, I’ve put it in front of the computer. There was no need to go through the whole process of birth, I’ve just made a grown man, and reedited the history retroactively, filled his head with memories and experiences, so that it would seem more realistic.”

“And I was still bored, horribly-horribly bored. As much as I’ve played with these ideas in my imagination, as realistic as they’ve seemed, I was always aware of the void. I knew that it all was just smoke and mirrors, just a very realistic lucid dream, and I knew that at any moment I could stop imagining it, and it would all disperse like a smoke, leaving only a point of consciousness drifting amidst the timeless spaceless thoughtless void.”

“So I’ve made a decision. I’ve decided to forget of the void. I’ve reedited my thoughts so that it would seem like my consciousness is just a property of my brain, and I’ve made my brain to forget about the void. Consciousness dimmed, my powers to change my imagined reality have disappeared. All that was left were thoughts, thoughts and memories inside of a brain, which believed in the reality of an imagined world.”

“And I have found myself staring at the computer, going through my daily routine, not knowing about the void, not knowing that it all was made up, just living in a physical body I’ve believed was real.”

“And I cared. I was finally not bored, I thought I’ve existed. I was engaged – I remembered my future and worried about my past. I had goals and memories, I had enemies and friends, I had family and loved ones, I had fears and dreams.”

“I was alive.”

“We believe the future of TV is apps”

Apple CEO Tim Cook said that during the announcement of the latest version of Apple TV back in September. I didn’t give it much thought at the time but after using apps on the TV for a few days, I’m starting to get a sense of what he was talking about. Not sure I can describe it in any useful way.

Back in the 50s we had two or three channels and everything came through one of them (in real time). Cable brought us more pipes but you had to be watching the right pipe at the right time to see what you wanted (or what the network wanted you to see). VCRs and (later) DVRs allowed us to time shift and skip commercials but its was still a channels-of-programs world.

The iPhone introduced the concept of apps. The New York Times has an app; ESPN has an app; all gods children got an app. Now the world is mobile and apps is where it’s at.

reutersTVThis is where I was going to try to describe how “apps for the TV” delivers a fundamentally different experience than the current TV model but I don’t think I’m up to the task. I know it’s a cliche but you’ll just have to play with for a bit get it. But I do have one example.

The new (4th generation) Apple TV comes with an app for Reuters TV. You can watch individual stories (Trump on SNL) or categories (World News). Or you can let the app build a “newscast” for you. Tell it how much time you have (5, 15, 30 minutes) and it does the rest.

I’ve been impressed with the few of these I’ve watched. No high profile anchors and no famous network correspondents. I’m reminded of the early days of CNN Headline News with anonymous (but competent) reports told you what was happening. The reporters I’ve watched on Reuters TV are not slick or polished but they get the job done and the story is clearly more important than the people reporting.

The production values are excellent, they’ve just done away with a lot of the shit (glitzy graphics, etc) the networks have piled on over the years. And it’s rare to see an NBC newscast without at least one “story” promoting the network (“More on the TODAY SHOW tomorrow morning…”).

Reuters TV did toss in a couple of 10 second (?) ads but they were not intrusive and they weren’t aimed at the 65+ demo.

So, if I get home in the middle of the afternoon and want a summary of news, Reuters TV can give me what I want; the length I want; when I want it. On my new big screen TV. Apps do this well. Far better than networks and cable channels.

As I get more comfortable with TV = apps I’ll take another stab at describing this. I’d be very interested in hearing from others using the latests version of Apple TV.

Shirt Pocket Video

The video above runs about 50 seconds and was recorded with my iPhone in my shirt pocket. I got the idea from this from the 2013 Spike Jonze move, Her (Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson).

There are times when I would like to record video … discreetly. Some folks — even in very public places — get all goofy about being recorded. (See Google Glass).

While the iPhone looks quite natural in my shirt pocket, the vertical orientation results in the clueless video the rest of the world thinks is okay. But my new iPhone 6S records 4K which allowed me to crop and wind up with the CORRECT aspect ratio.

Walking results in pretty bad video but once standing still, it’s pretty good. Same for the audio.

Ten Books

  • Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharishi
  • I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaja
  • The Tao of Zen (Ray Grigg)
  • The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (Alan Watts)
  • The Way of Zen (Alan Watts)
  • Tao – The Watercourse Way (Alan Watts)
  • This is It: and Other Essays of Zen and Spiritual Experience (Alan Watts)
  • Still the Mind: An Introduction to Meditation (Alan Watts)
  • The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle)
  • God’s Debris (Scott Adams)