“Come to think of it, a world with 10 babies on the Senate floor doesn’t sound so bad at all.”
This is not the first time that Tesla has been overbearing, defensive, and quick to blame the (dead) victim in incidents involving their Autopilot system. But they are being called on it, and this is not a good look for a company that claims to be developing the safest cars in the industry.
In January 2008, I adopted the best cat in the world. He was named Miso at the time, but his real name was Oscar. He had lived a few years with another family, but his forever home was with me.
I knew this girl, Meghan, who fell in love with Oscar. Eventually, she decided she liked me too. In April 2009, we went on our first date, but no one told me. I was going rock climbing in New Hampshire with some friends, and she came along, even though she was scared of heights.
Meghan introduced me to her large extended family, and taught me a different way of vacationing that involves staying in one place rather than being constantly on the move. I showed her the Western US and later took her out of the country for the first time.
In no time at all, Meghan moved in with me, displacing my long-suffering roommate Igor.Continue reading “The Last Ten Years”
In August I started driving a Volvo XC60 with the latest generation of vehicle autonomy features. Since that time I have driven nearly 10,000 miles in the car, and the experience has been mostly positive. Early on there was one aberrant behavior where the vehicle, while running in its “Pilot Assist” mode, suddenly and inexplicably changed lanes and nearly caused a collision. I don’t know if the car lost its lane lock or it was attempting to swerve around a perceived but non-existent obstacle.
There was a second incident, also in Pilot Assist mode, when the vehicle (presumably) lost its lock on the car ahead and started accelerating. And on a few other occasions, the automatic collision braking system has kicked in when not needed.Continue reading “Brushes with disaster”
There is nothing more quintessentially “American capitalism” in flavor than The Cheesecake Factory. Wealth run wild. Chaotic visual fantasies realized with no aesthetic discipline. An obsession with appearance of luxury. Gross excess that excels at feigning its quality. It feels like a relic of another era, one where such a vision was sold to the American public as a utopian concept. It, like the brief period of neoliberalistic prosperity that made it possible, is a fever dream made manifest. Enjoy it while you can.Max Krieger
In 2009 I posted part 1 and part 2 of my log of a family vacation in Italy. While looking for something else (Ben Folds concert location — long story), I discovered that I had composed but never published some additional entries. Part 3 (Florence) is barebones, part 4 (Cinque Terra) needs some revisions, but this final entry is basically complete. So here it is, better late than never. In keeping with my posting style of that time, it includes some Deep Thoughts at the end about Life, the Universe, and our place in it all.Continue reading “Triplog: Italy (Part 5: Lake Como)”
I saw the original production of Sleep No More in Boston twice, as well as the New York production. The show is immersive and charged and incredible, one of the most amazing theater experiences I have ever witnessed. I was pulled aside into private spaces by actors, given objects, told by actors to go places and to do things. In one scene, an actor handed me his clothing as he undressed. I never once, not for a second, would have considered touching the actors. There is immersive theater, and then there is assault. The line, actually, is pretty clear.
I guess it is not shocking how some audience members behave, because so many human beings are terrible. But it is absolutely shocking and abhorrent the way the show management treated these incidents, and the ways in which they allowed their actors and technical staff to be abused by patrons night after night. Even worse are their feeble but repeated denials of responsibility.
[T]his week, my advice regarding time would be (in this order):
1. Try to restrict your caloric intake;Tim Carmody, summarizing the latest in longevity research
2. Consider shifting some of your qubits into spin 1/2;
3. Accept that we’re thrown into our circumstances, regardless of how shitty they may be, and greet whatever fate rises to meet you with resolute defiance.
Apologies in advance to the chemists in the room, because I’m going to butcher the science on this. But the lay explanation is fascinating.
Weight loss discussions typically focus on two pathways, or both in combination: caloric restriction (i.e. eating less) and exercise. In both cases, the goal is to “burn” more calories than we take in and, thus, remove excess fat. But what does this mean in practice? Calories are a measure of heat energy, so the term “burn” seems to make intuitive sense. But the theory of conservation of mass tells us that mass cannot be created or destroyed. We are not losing weight through heat.
If the common wisdom is a lie, the next idea is that we lose weight through digestive excretions, i.e. feces. But this, also, is incorrect, for somewhat obvious reasons. The digestive system is concerned with taking in fuel, breaking it down, using it, and getting rid of all the useless bits out the other side. Nowhere in that system is there any “burning” or converting of stored energy. In short, we don’t lose weight through our poop.
Losing weight actually comes down to metabolizing triglycerides, the primary component of fat. Triglycerides are essentially a bunch of carbon and hydrogen with a bit of oxygen thrown in. This is basic chemistry, and I have forgotten most of my chemistry. But wait, carbon? Hydrogen?
So, it turns out that the vast majority of “burned” calories are expelled through breathing. Eighty-six percent, to be precise. How? Well, just how we were taught in elementary school — O2 in, CO2 out! Most of the remainder, i.e. those hydrogen atoms, leaves as water, H2O coming out of all the various places that we get rid of water, such as sweat, spit, tears, and urine.
Hearing this for the first time, it seems utterly crazy. But actually it makes a lot more sense than the idea that all that fat is being magically “burned” away.
America cannot be “first,” as Trump insists. It can be a thug and a bully only in the betrayal of itself. It must be itself, a certain idea of liberty and democracy and openness, or it is nothing, just a squalid, oversized, greedy place past the zenith of its greatness.Roger Cohen, “If this is America”
What if technology existed that allowed memories to be rewritten? If you could have a “do-over” on your life, would you take it? And if so, how would you change your path? To the Moon begins at a sickbed. Two technicians hook a frail, dying man to a machine that allows them to map and catalog his memories, and then to change them. Before his life ends, the man is given one brief chance to “relive” things as he wanted them to be. In doing so, he must forfeit his old, real memories. But, with only days to live, does it matter? Will the technicians make the right choices, and will the man die content?
His dying wish is to go to the moon. But he can’t articulate why: he doesn’t know! And before the wish can be granted, the man’s memories, a whole lifetime of memories — trivial and deep, happy and sad, readily apparent and deeply hidden — must be mapped, linked, and interpreted. And then changed. Deeply, profoundly changed.
This interactive story takes the form of a pixel art game with written dialog. The old-style gameplay belies the depth of the storytelling. The music is integral and captivating. The plot twists and turns, and then all the pieces lock together to reveal something beautiful and sad. I was guessing to the very end. The game is short enough you can complete it in one long evening. As soon as it ends, it starts over, and I won’t dwell on what that cyclicality means. It is worth playing through a second time to pick up on all the clues and connections. Plus, the little twist after the credits role is delicious.
Lovers of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind will be well-served by this lovely, captivating game. And afterwards, you will surely want the soundtrack.
Aaron Swartz (of course, of course it was Aaron) lays everything out.
In a way, I wonder how much of this sensation was subverted by Infinite Summer. Reading this book should be a terribly lonely experience. It is so sweeping and detailed and consuming. No one outside the novel can possibly understand what you’re talking about. And if you’re reading it twice? Three times? Before the acceleration of the internet, how many similar obsessives was the average reader likely to run into? Most people don’t read this book, and most who do don’t finish. Those who did finish and find themselves trapped were in for a lot of alone time. A lot of time drawing out theories that no one else would understand on piece of paper.Ezra Klein on Infinite Jest
An in-depth and well-researched article about the fallout of the NSA information disclosures.
Quinn Norton’s writing is powerful as always, and this article about sexual assault by men in positions of power in the tech community does not go the direction I expected. An important read.
Selfishly, I would like to live as long as possible. The top causes of death among adults in the United States are heart disease, cancer, and automobile accidents. So I attempt to maintain a reasonably healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking harmful substances. And I try to both limit my driving and drive in the safest available vehicles.
Living in LA for the last six months, daily long-distance driving has become unavoidable. Consequently, I have continued my studies of the latest in car safety, which, these days, primarily revolves around vehicle autonomy systems.Continue reading “The current state of commercial vehicle autonomy, from the perspective of a casual driver”
From the “I bet you didn’t see that one coming” department.