Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

Reflections On The Gay Community’s Political Progress & It's Future.

Today, gay people of a certain age may feel as though they had stepped out of a lavender time machine. That’s the sensation that hit me when I watched the young man in Tempe shout down a homophobe in the name of the President-elect. Gay marriage is legal in six states and in Washington, D.C. Gays can serve in the military without hiding their sexuality. We’ve seen openly gay judges, congresspeople, mayors (including a four-term mayor of Tempe), movie stars, and talk-show hosts. Gay film and TV characters are almost annoyingly ubiquitous. The Supreme Court, which finally annulled sodomy laws in 2003, is set to begin examining the marriage issue. And the 2012 campaign has shown that Republicans no longer see the gays as a reliable wedge issue: although Mitt Romney opposes same-sex marriage, he has barely mentioned it this fall. If thirty-two people were to die today in a mass murder at a gay bar, both Obama and Romney would presumably express sympathy for the victims—more than any official in New Orleans did when, back in 1973, an arsonist set fire to the Upstairs Lounge.


Three-dimensional people are more persuasive than two-dimensional ones, as Biden surely knows. In the end, the big change likely came about because, each year, a few thousand more gay people make the awkward announcement to their families and friends, supplanting images from the folklore of disgust. My primary political moment happened when I wrote long, lugubrious letters to my closest friends, finally revealing the rest of me.

In one, I came out in a footnote on the seventh page, amid pompous but heartfelt quotations from Wallace Stevens: “The greatest poverty is not to live / In a physical world, to feel that one’s desire / Is too difficult to tell from despair.” Harvey Milk always said that this was how the revolution would happen: one lonely kid at a time.

- More Here on the history of this much needed Moral Progress

Quote of the Day

If I am pressed to say why I loved him, I feel it can only be explained by replying: 'Because it was he; because it was me.

- Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Maximus and Me - A New Week

Both pondering the fragility of life on 06/22/2015 but the possibility of life itself in this vast space of time and matter bought smile to both.

Quote of the Day

No man is exempt from saying silly things; the mischief is to say them deliberately.

- Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Wisdom Of The Week

"In contrast to mainstream artificial intelligence, I see competition as much more essential than consistency, " he says. Consistency is a chimera, because in a complicated world there is no guarantee  that experience will be consistent. But for agents playing a game against their environment, competition is forever. "Besides," says Holland, "despite all the work in economics and biology, we still haven't extracted what's central in competition." There's a richness there that we've only just began to fathom. Consider the magical fact that competition can produce a very strong incentive for cooperation, as certain players spontaneously forge alliances and symbiotic relationships with each other for mutual support. It happens at every level and in every kind of complex, adaptive system, from biology to economics to politics. "Competition and cooperation may be antithetical, " he says, "but at some very deep level, they are two sides of the same coin"

- Excerpts from Complexity: Emerging Science At The Edge Of Order And Chaos by M. Mitchell Waldrop.

Quote of the Day

The noblest kind of retribution is not to become like your enemy.

- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Friday, June 26, 2015

What Unread Books Can Teach Us

The novelist and scholar Umberto Eco once bemoaned the fact that many visitors to his home, seeing his vast personal library, can’t help but exclaim: “What a lot of books! Have you read them all?” His jaw stiffens: the question implies that his floor-to-ceiling bookshelves are for showing off, when actually they’re a research tool. Unread books are where the action is. The writer Nassim Taleb approvingly calls such a collection an “antilibrary”; one’s shelves, he argues, should contain “as much of what you do not know” as finances allow. And don’t expect the proportion of unread books to fall, either. The more you read, the more the perimeter of your knowledge increases, and the more you’ll realise you don’t know. (Incidentally, Eco’s deadpan response to his visitors’ question is, “No, these are the ones I have to read by the end of the month. I keep the others in my office.”)


But Eco’s number-one point is about humility, and it’s one that might serve any manager, colleague or parent: “the knowledge that anyone can teach us something”. While researching his own PhD, Eco recalls, he got deeply stuck, and one day happened to buy a book by an obscure 19th-century abbot, mainly because he liked the binding. Idly paging through it, he found, in a throwaway line, a stunning idea that led him to a breakthrough. Who’d have predicted it? Except that, years later, when a friend asked to see the passage in question, he climbed a ladder to a high bookshelf, located the book… and the line wasn’t there. Stimulated by the abbot’s words, it seems, he’d come up with it himself. You never know where good ideas will come from, even when they come from you.

- Oliver Burkeman

Quote of the Day

Men look for retreats for themselves, the country, the seashore, the hills; and you yourself, too, are peculiarly accustomed to feel the same want. Yet all this is very unlike a philosopher, when you may at any hour you please retreat into yourself. For nowhere does a man retreat into more quiet or more privacy than into his own mind, especially one who has within such things that he has only to look into, and become at once in perfect ease; and by ease I mean nothing else but good behaviour. Continually therefore grant yourself this retreat and repair yourself. But let them be brief and fundamental truths, which will suffice at once by their presence to wash away all sorrow, and to send you back without repugnance to the life to which you return.

- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Quote of the Day

Your mind will be like its habitual thoughts; for the soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts. Soak it then in such trains of thoughts as, for example: Where life is possible at all, a right life is possible.

When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love…

Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones

- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Quote of the Day

Empty is the argument of the philosopher which does not relieve any human suffering.

- Epicurus

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Quote of the Day

For what prevents us from saying that the happy life is to have a mind that is free, lofty, fearless and steadfast - a mind that is placed beyond the reach of fear, beyond the reach of desire, that counts virtue the only good, baseness the only evil, and all else but a worthless mass of things, which come and go without increasing or diminishing the highest good, and neither subtract any part from the happy life nor add any part to it?

A man thus grounded must, whether he wills or not, necessarily be attended by constant cheerfulness and a joy that is deep and issues from deep within, since he finds delight in his own resources, and desires no joys greater than his inner joys.

- Seneca, The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters

Monday, June 22, 2015

Quote of the Day

Be like the cliff against which the waves continually break; but it stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it.

Thou must be like a promontory of the sea, against which though the waves beat continually, yet it both itself stands, and about it are those swelling waves stilled and quieted.

- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Quote of the Day

Words need to be sown like seeds. No matter how tiny a seed may be, when in lands in the right sort of ground it unfolds its strength and from being minute expands and grows to a massive size.

- Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Wisdom Of The Week

And the reason for that passion, as Arthur slowly came to realize, was that the free-market ideal had become bound up with American ideals of individual rights and individual liberty: both are grounded in the notion that society works best when people are left alone to do what they want.

"Every democratic society has to solve a certain problem," says Arthur: "If you let people do their own thing, how do you assure the common good? In Germany, that problem is solved by people watching everybody else out the windows. People will come right up to you and say, 'Put a cap on that baby!'

In England, they have this notion of a body of wise people at the top looking after things. "Oh, yes we've had this Royal Commission, chaired by Lord So-and-So. We've taken all your interests into account, and there'll be a nuclear reactor in your backyard tomorrow."

But in the United States, the ideals maximum individual freedom - or, as Arthur puts it, "letting everybody be their own John Wayne and run around with guns." However much that ideal is compromised in practice, it still holds mythic power.

But increasing returns cut to the heart of that myth. If small chance events can lock you in to any of several possible outcomes, then the outcome that's actually selected may not be the best. And that means that maximum individual freedom - and the free market - might not produce that best of all possible worlds. So by advocating increasing returns, Arthur was innocently treading into a minefield.

- Excerpts from Complexity: Emerging Science At The Edge Of Order And Chaos by M. Mitchell Waldrop. That's the most powerful case against Libertarianism I have ever read and it's so true.

Quote of the Day

If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place but to be a different person.

- Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Friday, June 19, 2015

Quote of the Day

Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow, and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune's control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.

-  Seneca

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Dutch Student’s Giant Ocean Cleanup Machine Is Going Into Production

Three years ago, a Dutch teenager named Boyan Slat garnered global accolades for a solution he devised for a high school science fair: a passive ocean trash collection device that would collect ocean plastic without harming marine life.

These days, Slat is a 20-year-old entrepreneur who is eager to put his massive ocean-cleaning idea to the test. A passing grade might lead to the removal of nearly half of the plastic debris floating in the Pacific Ocean in under a decade. But the process needs to be tested in real-world conditions before it can be launched at full scale—or beat the criticism of scientists who are skeptical that it can work.

Slat’s idea reverses current marine cleanup methods: Instead of sending ships out to chase floating garbage, position a stationary, floating, V-shaped buffer in ocean currents so that water moves through it, funneling plastic debris into a container for capture and removal while allowing animals to swim past the net-free device.

To test the concept, Slat and his company, Ocean Cleanup, propose to place a 6,561-foot-long float in the Korea Strait, off Tsushima Island, by spring 2016. If realized, it would be the largest floating structure ever deployed.

- More Here

Quote of the Day

Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.

- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

We Are All Confident Idiots

An ignorant mind is precisely not a spotless, empty vessel, but one that’s filled with the clutter of irrelevant or misleading life experiences, theories, facts, intuitions, strategies, algorithms, heuristics, metaphors, and hunches that regrettably have the look and feel of useful and accurate knowledge. This clutter is an unfortunate by-product of one of our greatest strengths as a species. We are unbridled pattern recognizers and profligate theorizers. Often, our theories are good enough to get us through the day, or at least to an age when we can procreate. But our genius for creative storytelling, combined with our inability to detect our own ignorance, can sometimes lead to situations that are embarrassing, unfortunate, or downright dangerous—especially in a technologically advanced, complex democratic society that occasionally invests mistaken popular beliefs with immense destructive power (See: crisis, financial; war, Iraq). As the humorist Josh Billings once put it, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” (Ironically, one thing many people “know” about this quote is that it was first uttered by Mark Twain or Will Rogers—which just ain’t so.)

Because of the way we are built, and because of the way we learn from our environment, we are all engines of misbelief. And the better we understand how our wonderful yet kludge-ridden, Rube Goldberg engine works, the better we—as individuals and as a society—can harness it to navigate toward a more objective understanding of the truth.

- More Here

Quote of the Day

You think it a great matter that you can bring yourself to live without all the apparatus of fashionable dishes; that you do not desire wild boars of a thousand pounds weight, or the tongues of rare birds, and other portents of a luxury which now despises whole carcasses, and chooses only certain parts of each victim. I shall admire you then only when you scorn not plain bread, when you have persuaded yourself that herbs exist not for other animals only, but for man also - if you shall recognize that vegetables are sufficient food for the stomach into which we now stuff valuable lives, as though it were to keep them for ever. For whist matters it what it receives, since it will soon lose all that it has devoured? The apparatus of dishes, containing the spoils of sea and land, gives you pleasure, you say.. .The splendour of all this, heightened by art. gives you pleasure. Ah! those very things so solicitously sought for and served up so variously - no sooner have they entered the belly then one and the same foulness shall take possession of them all. Would you contemn the pleasures of the table? Consider their final destination.

- Seneca

Monday, June 15, 2015

What Is Code?

We are here because the editor of this magazine asked me, “Can you tell me what code is?”“No,” I said. “First of all, I’m not good at the math. I’m a programmer, yes, but I’m an East Coast programmer, not one of these serious platform people from the Bay Area.”

I began to program nearly 20 years ago, learning via oraperl, a special version of the Perl language modified to work with the Oracle database. A month into the work, I damaged the accounts of 30,000 fantasy basketball players. They sent some angry e-mails. After that, I decided to get better.

Which is to say I’m not a natural. I love computers, but they never made any sense to me. And yet, after two decades of jamming information into my code-resistant brain, I’ve amassed enough knowledge that the computer has revealed itself. Its magic has been stripped away. I can talk to someone who used to work at Amazon.com or Microsoft about his or her work without feeling a burning shame. I’d happily talk to people from Google and Apple, too, but they so rarely reenter the general population.


What I’m saying is, I’m one of 18 million. So that’s what I’m writing: my view of software development, as an individual among millions. Code has been my life, and it has been your life, too. It is time to understand how it all works.


Python is a very interesting language and quite popular, too. It’s object-oriented but not rigid.  And it’s widely understood to be easier than C for programmers to use, because it provides more abstractions for programmers to reuse. It hides much of the weirdness of the computer and many details of how computation is performed. Python is usually slower than C; this is the price you pay for all those sweet levels of abstraction. In the vast majority of cases this difference in speed truly doesn’t matter, regardless of how much people protest. It’s only of consequence when you’ve built up a system in Python and a part of it runs millions or billions of times, slowing down the computer—and thus requiring more resources to get its work done.

What then? Does this mean you need to throw away all your Python and start over in some other language? Probably not. Python has a deserved reputation as a “glue language,” meaning you can take code from other, lower-level languages such as C, C++, and Fortran 77 (yes, as in the year 1977), code that is close to the machine and known to be sound, and write “wrapper functions.” That is, you can embed the older, faster code in the newer, slower, but easier-to-use system.

A big part of this process is in wrapping up the old code in nice, well-organized Python functions. In many ways the idiom of a language is not just how it looks but also how it feels. Some languages emphasize brevity. Some support long, complex functions, while others encourage you to break up functionality into small pieces. Style and usage matter; sometimes programmers recommend Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style—that’s right, the one about the English language. Its focus on efficient usage resonates with programmers. The idiom of a language is part of its communal identity.

Python is not the glue for everything, though. It’s hard to connect to Java but fits C hand to glove. There’s a version of Python designed to run inside of Java and use Java code. That’s called Jython. If you want a version that works with Microsoft’s .NET, you can go with IronPython.

But there’s another way to interpret all this activity around Python: People love it and want it to work everywhere and do everything. They’ve spent tens of thousands of hours making that possible and then given the fruit of their labor away. That’s a powerful indicator. A huge amount of effort has gone into making Python practical as well as pleasurable to use. There are lots of conferences, frequent code updates, and vibrant mailing lists. You pick a language not just on its technical merits, or its speediness, or the job opportunities it may present, but also on its culture.

Python people, generally, are pretty cool.

- More Here

Quote of the Day

I asked a professor of nanotechnology what they use to measure the unthinkable small distances of nanospace? He said it was the nanometre. This didn't help me very much. A nanometre is a billionth of a metre. I understood the idea but couldn't visualise what it meant. I said, "What is it roughly?" He thought for a moment and said, "A nanometre is roughly the distance that a man's beard grows in one second". I had never thought about what beards do in a second but they must do something. It takes them all day to grow about a milllimetre. They don't leap out of your face at eight o'clock in the morning. Beards are slow, languid things and our language reflects this. We do not say "as quick as a beard" or "as fast as a bristle". We now have a way of grasping of how slow they are - about a nanometre a second.

- Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Long Term Future of AI - Professor Stuart Russell

Professor Russell argues that AI researchers need to expand the scope of their work to embrace the Friendly AI project. Civil engineers don’t fall into two categories: those who erect structures like buildings and bridges, and those who make sure they don’t fall down. Similarly, nuclear fusion research doesn’t have a separate category of person who studies the containment of the reaction. So AI researchers should not just be working on “AI”, but on “provably beneficial AI”.

- More Here

Quote of the Day

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Wisdom Of The Week

I never thought I would see this happening in China in my lifetime - Chinese Dog Killers Attacked By Angry Mob For Nine Hours:

Vigilante justice occurred in a Chinese village when villagers sought revenge after two men stole and killed their dogs for meat. The villagers beat the men for nine hours straight. The incident began around 7 a.m. Tuesday, and happened in Shaping village, Yizhang County, Hunan Province, where towns people caught the two men hauling away the dead dogs. They then beat the men bloody, tying the dead dogs’ bodies around the men’s necks, according to Life With Dogs.

When police arrived at the scene to attempt to calm and stop the mob for the brutal assault, trying to reason with the villagers that vigilante justice is not acceptable, some members of the mob turned on the police with metal bars around 4 p.m., even smashing the windshield of a police car. At first, the angry mob could not be reasoned with or settled down, as their own pet dogs were killed by the thieves. Some members of the horde laid down in front of police vehicles and rolled rocks in the street so that the dog killers couldn’t be driven away, according to the Daily Mail.

Remember, this happened in Chinese village and not in a city or town.I don't believe Chinese dog eaters will become "moral" in fear of violence. But history has proven us the first step of moral progress and justice is initiated by violence. For the future generation to be embrace moral progress, the present generation had to go through violence. Humans don't change their mind by reason - they pretend to change their mind in fear of violence and it becomes natural moral progress for next generation. 

But as John Gray's says we tend to fall back to past within seconds. Weird creatures we are... one has blog because of his love for his of dog, who is writing about his fellow creatures who are dog killers. And in the mean time, some of his other fellow creatures are pondering about "evils" of artificial intelligence.

Quote of the Day

In adopting a patently false but stubbornly clung-to mythology of human sexuality that makes demons out of natural drives, we've entered a stage of moral sickness, not of moral health.

- Jesse Bering, Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Quote of the Day

When morals decline and good men do nothing, evil flourishes. A society unwilling to learn from the past is doomed. We must never forget our history. We must never lower our guard.

– J.Edgar

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Can Reading Make You Happy?

Bibliotherapy is a very broad term for the ancient practice of encouraging reading for therapeutic effect. The first use of the term is usually dated to a jaunty 1916 article in The Atlantic Monthly, “A Literary Clinic.” In it, the author describes stumbling upon a “bibliopathic institute” run by an acquaintance, Bagster, in the basement of his church, from where he dispenses reading recommendations with healing value. “Bibliotherapy is…a new science,” Bagster explains. “A book may be a stimulant or a sedative or an irritant or a soporific. The point is that it must do something to you, and you ought to know what it is. A book may be of the nature of a soothing syrup or it may be of the nature of a mustard plaster.” To a middle-aged client with “opinions partially ossified,” Bagster gives the following prescription: “You must read more novels. Not pleasant stories that make you forget yourself. They must be searching, drastic, stinging, relentless novels.” (George Bernard Shaw is at the top of the list.) Bagster is finally called away to deal with a patient who has “taken an overdose of war literature,” leaving the author to think about the books that “put new life into us and then set the life pulse strong but slow.”


For all avid readers who have been self-medicating with great books their entire lives, it comes as no surprise that reading books can be good for your mental health and your relationships with others, but exactly why and how is now becoming clearer, thanks to new research on reading’s effects on the brain. Since the discovery, in the mid-nineties, of “mirror neurons”—neurons that fire in our brains both when we perform an action ourselves and when we see an action performed by someone else—the neuroscience of empathy has become clearer. A 2011 study published in the Annual Review of Psychology, based on analysis of fMRI brain scans of participants, showed that, when people read about an experience, they display stimulation within the same neurological regions as when they go through that experience themselves. We draw on the same brain networks when we’re reading stories and when we’re trying to guess at another person’s feelings.

Other studies published in 2006 and 2009 showed something similar—that people who read a lot of fiction tend to be better at empathizing with others (even after the researchers had accounted for the potential bias that people with greater empathetic tendencies may prefer to read novels). And, in 2013, an influential study published in Science found that reading literary fiction (rather than popular fiction or literary nonfiction) improved participants’ results on tests that measured social perception and empathy, which are crucial to “theory of mind”: the ability to guess with accuracy what another human being might be thinking or feeling, a skill humans only start to develop around the age of four.


So even if you don’t agree that reading fiction makes us treat others better, it is a way of treating ourselves better. Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers. “Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines,” the author Jeanette Winterson has written. “What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination.”

- More Here

Quote of the Day

Ultimately evil is done not so much by evil people, but by good people who do not know themselves and who do not probe deeply.

- Reinhold Niebuhr

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Quote of the Day

Bacteria have a kind of adaptive immune system, which enables them to fight off repeated attacks by specific viruses, that works through precise targeting of DNA. In January, four research teams reported harnessing the system, called CRISPR, to target the destruction of specific genes in human cells. And in the following 8 months, various groups have used it to delete, add, activate or suppress targeted genes in human cells, mice, rats, zebrafish, bacteria, fruit flies, yeast, nematodes and crops, demonstrating broad utility for the technique. With CRISPR, scientists can create mouse models of human diseases much more quickly than before, study individual genes much faster, and easily change multiple genes in cells at once to study their interactions.

- Elizabeth Pennisi, The CRISPR Craze

Monday, June 8, 2015

What Machine Learning Teaches Us About Ourselves

If — as Efros has pointed out — there are a lot more conceptual patterns than words can describe, then do words constrain our thoughts? This question is at the heart of the Sapir-Whorf or Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis, and the debate about whether language completely determines the boundaries of our cognition, or whether we are unconstrained to conceptualize anything — regardless of the languages we speak.

In its strongest form, the hypothesis posits that the structure and lexicon of languages constrain how one perceives and conceptualizes the world.

One of the most striking effects of this is demonstrated in the color test shown here. When asked to pick out the one square with a shade of green that’s distinct from all the others, the Himba people of northern Namibia — who have distinct words for the two shades of green — can find it almost instantly. The rest of us, however, have a much harder time doing so.

The theory is that — once we have words to distinguish one shade from another, our brains will train itself to discriminate between the shades, so the difference would become more and more “obvious” over time. In seeing with our brain, not with our eyes, language drives perception.

With machine learning, we also observe something similar. In supervised learning, we train our models to best match images (or text, audio, etc.) against provided labels or categories. By definition, these models are trained to discriminate much more effectively between categories that have provided labels, than between other possible categories for which we have not provided labels. When viewed from the perspective of supervised machine learning, this outcome is not at all surprising. So perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised by the results of the color experiment above, either. Language does indeed influence our perception of the world, in the same way that labels in supervised machine learning influence the model’s ability to discriminate among categories.

And yet, we also know that labels are not strictly required to discriminate between cues. In Google’s “cat-recognizing brain”, the network eventually discovers the concept of “cat”, “dog”, etc. all by itself — even without training the algorithm against explicit labels. After this unsupervised training, whenever the network is fed an image belonging to a certain category like “Cats”, the same corresponding set of “Cat” neurons always gets fired up. Simply by looking at the vast set of training images, this network has discovered the essential patterns of each category, as well as the differences of one category vs. another.

In the same way, an infant who is repeatedly shown a paper cup would soon recognize the visual pattern of such a thing, even before it ever learns the words “paper cup” to attach that pattern to a name. In this sense, the strong form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis cannot be entirely correct — we can, and do, discover concepts even without the words to describe them.

Supervised and unsupervised machine learning turn out to represent the two sides of the controversy’s coin. And if we recognized them as such, perhaps Sapir-Whorf would not be such a controversy, and more of a reflection of supervised and unsupervised human learning.

- More Here

What is Machine Learning?

Quote of the Day

Where do I find all the time to not read so many books?

- Karl Kraus

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Wisdom Of The Week

What women feel when they go through Menopause - I knew it was hard but never knew this was this hard !! I feel sorry but more importantly I have much more respect for women now.

No, I am here to tell you that one woman, a woman who is the most undepressed, optimistic, upbeat person I know, awoke one morning and walked straight into her kitchen and grabbed a butcher’s knife (she is a world class cook) with the intent of driving it through her heart. That was menopause.

If you take the time to peruse the annals of any nineteenth century asylum, as I have, you will discover that the ‘cause of admittance’ for all women over forty is listed as ‘change of life’.

In other words, you go crazy. When you go crazy, you don’t have the slightest inclination to read anything Foucault ever wrote about culture and madness.


You no longer exist.

Because you no longer exist, you will do anything for attention. You may shave your head or dye your hair or wear striped stockings or scream at complete strangers. You’ve seen them, haven’t you, the middle-aged women screaming at the attendant in the convenience store?

You are a depressed adolescent who sweats through their clothing and says terrible things to everyone, especially the people they love.

You begin to lie. You have the urge to shoplift and if you drive an automobile you have the urge to ram your car into the car in front of you.

Nothing can prepare you for this.

The one thing no one will tell you is that these feelings and this behavior will last ten years. That is, a decade of your life. Ask your doctor if this is true and she will deny it.

Quote of the Day

Humans don’t understand risk. Humans don’t understand false positives (or anything about the “receiver operating characteristic”). Humans very certainly don’t understand reasoning about probability.

- Artificial intelligence?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Quote of the Day

If, like the truth, falsehood had only one face, we should know better where we are, for we should then take the opposite of what a liar said to be the truth. But the opposite of a truth has a hundred thousand shapes and a limitless field.

- Montaigne, "On Liars"

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Google Touts Machine-Learning Prowess to Shareholders

“This is a very important area,” CEO Larry Page told about 200 shareholders at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, and others listening via a webcast. “It’s amazing what computers have been able to do in translation, search and understanding photos.”

“We’re at quite the early stages of that in terms of empowering everyone to get things they want to do done by using computers to do a lot of their work,” Page said.

Google is using machine learning in a growing number of products and services, including automatic translation, voice-based searching, self-driving cars and the Nest connected thermostat. Google displayed its expertise at its developers’ conference last week with a new photo-storage service that can recognize the subjects and locations of photos, through other information Google knows about a user, and sort them accordingly.

Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Google’s machine-learning programs benefit from the company’s vast stores of data, which include the majority of Internet searches conducted world-wide.

- More Here

Quote of the Day

This is a chance for us to change the model of learning from very shallow, very confined statistics to something extremely open-ended.

- Sebastian Thrun on Deep Learning

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Quote of the Day

Engineers, medical people, scientific people, have an obsession with solving the problems of reality, when actually … once you reach a basic level of wealth in society, most problems are actually problems of perception.

- Rory Sutherland

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What I've Been Reading

Alone among other animals, humans seek meaning in their lives by killing and dying for the sake of nonsense. Chief among these absurdities, in modern times, is the idea of a new humanity. 
The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Inquiry into Human Freedom by John Gray. This time around John has unleashed his pessimism at AI and Robotics. Being a student myself, such high dose of skepticism is highest level of education one can attain. Thank you John.

A degree of privacy may survive as a luxury good. Encrypting part of their lives, the rich may contrive for themselves a freedom that many people possessed without such effort in the past. For the rest, loss of privacy is the price of individualism. Anyone can achieve momentary fame, but for nearly everyone today fifteen minutes of anonymity has become an impossible dream. 

Accepting the fact that unknowing makes possible an inner freedom very different from that pursued by Gnostics. If you have this negative capability, you will not want a higher form of consciousness your ordinary mind will give you all you need. Rather than trying to impose sense on your life, you will be content to let meaning come and go. Instead of becoming an unflattering puppet, you will make your way in the stumbling human world. Uber-marionettes do not have to wait until they can fly before they can be free. Not looking to ascent into the heavens, they can find freedom in falling into earth. 

Quote of the Day

A computer is like a violin. You can imagine a novice trying first a phonograph and then a violin. The latter, he says, sounds terrible. That is the argument we have heard from our humanists and most of our computer scientists. Computer programs are good, they say, for particular purposes, but they aren’t flexible. Neither is a violin, or a typewriter, until you learn how to use it.

- Marvin Minsky

Monday, June 1, 2015

Quote of the Day

During the conference I was staying with my sister in Syracuse. I brought the paper home and said to her, "I can't understand these things that Lee and Yang are saying. It's all so complicated."

"No," she said, "what you mean is not that you can't understand it, but that you didn't invent it. You didn't figure it out your own way, from hearing the clue. What you should do is imagine you're a student again, and take this paper upstairs, read every line of it, and check the equations. Then you'll understand it very easily."

I took her advice, and checked through the whole thing, and found it to be very obvious and simple. I had been afraid to read it thinking it, was too difficult.

- Richard Feynman uses the try harder in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman