Friday, January 29, 2016

Donald Trump’s Twitter Insults: The Complete List (So Far)

The New York Times has an infographic Donald Trump’s Twitter Insults: The Complete List (So Far) "In the seven months since declaring his candidacy for president, Donald Trump has used Twitter to lob insults at presidential candidates, journalists, news organizations, nations, a Neil Young song and even a lectern in the Oval Office. We know this because we’ve read, tagged and quoted them all. Below, a directory of sorts, with links to the original tweets. Insults within the last two weeks are highlighted."

Paul Rudd v Stephen Hawking in Quantum Chess

Fun short film (directed by "Bill" and with a voiceover by "Ted")

Some more details about the video and the game here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

12 Years on Mars

In Focus shows12 Years on Mars. "NASA's Mars rover, Opportunity just celebrated its 12th anniversary on Mars—a mission that was originally meant to last just 90 days. Although recently eclipsed in the news by its bigger brother Curiosity, Opportunity is still going strong and making valuable scientific discoveries. Launched into space in 2003, Opportunity bounced to a hole-in-one landing in a small crater on Mars' Meridiani Planum on January 25, 2004. It has since spent 4,270 Martian days, or sols, on the surface, slowly moving from target to target, exploring craters, meteorites, unusual rock formations, and finding evidence of past water activity. Over the past 144 months, Opportunity has taken more than 200,000 images, and driven a total of 26.50 miles (42.65 kilometers) across Mars—not bad for a mission designed to last only three months."

Main 1500 500

Google Go Program Beats Go Master

Google reports AlphaGo: using machine learning to master the ancient game of Go

We trained the neural networks on 30 million moves from games played by human experts, until it could predict the human move 57 percent of the time (the previous record before AlphaGo was 44 percent). But our goal is to beat the best human players, not just mimic them. To do this, AlphaGo learned to discover new strategies for itself, by playing thousands of games between its neural networks, and adjusting the connections using a trial-and-error process known as reinforcement learning. Of course, all of this requires a huge amount of computing power, so we made extensive use of Google Cloud Platform.

After all that training it was time to put AlphaGo to the test. First, we held a tournament between AlphaGo and the other top programs at the forefront of computer Go. AlphaGo won all but one of its 500 games against these programs. So the next step was to invite the reigning three-time European Go champion Fan Hui—an elite professional player who has devoted his life to Go since the age of 12—to our London office for a challenge match. In a closed-doors match last October, AlphaGo won by 5 games to 0. It was the first time a computer program has ever beaten a professional Go player. You can find out more in our paper, which was published in Nature today.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Money Men Say, Voters Move Over, It's Not Your Election!

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship write Money Men Say, Voters Move Over, It's Not Your Election! At first they call David Brooks out for what he is:

So let’s get this straight: One of the most prominent of Republican elites in the country, who has even been touted as President Obama’s “favorite pundit” (we’re not making this up!), is calling on the donor class to rescue the party from the rabble. Game’s over, voters: The oligarchs will decide this election.

They go on to talk more about the donor class:

In the words of the veteran Washington insider Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and former chief economic advisor to Joe Biden, “There’s this notion that the wealthy use their money to buy politicians; more accurately, it’s that they can buy policy.” Environmental policy, for example, when it comes to energy moguls like the Kochs. And tax policy.

They end with:

So here’s the real value of all that campaign cash and lobbying largesse: underwriting a willingness among legislators and government officials to bend the rules, slip in the necessary loopholes and look the other way when it comes time for the rich to hide their fortunes.

This is the status quo to which the donors cling so tightly and clutch their pearls at the prospect of losing. But now, with Trump seemingly ascendant, some of those who might have been relied on to support a donor revolt are betraying Brooks’ call for a coup, weakening in their resolve and beginning to think that maybe the short-fingered vulgarian isn’t such a bad idea. Despite his populist brayings, they hope, he might well be brought into their alliance.

Which brings to mind a line from the movie version of the musical Cabaret. In pre-Third Reich Germany, the decadent Baron Maximilian von Heune is talking with the British writer Brian Roberts, explaining why the elite have allowed this Hitler fellow to get a jackboot in the door. “The Nazis are just a gang of stupid hooligans, but they do serve a purpose,” he says. “Let them get rid of the Communists. Later we’ll be able to control them.”

We all know how well that turned out.

What Paul Graham Is Missing About Inequality

Tim O'Reilly brilliantly explains What Paul Graham Is Missing About Inequality. He ends with:

When a startup doesn’t have an underlying business model that will eventually produce real revenues and profits, and the only way for its founders to get rich is to sell to another company or to investors, you have to ask yourself whether that startup is really just a financial instrument, not that dissimilar to the CDOs of the 2008 financial crisis — a way of extracting value from the economy without actually creating it.

But it's worth reading the whole thing.

GOP establishment deserves Trump, Cruz

Princeton professor Julian Zelizer says the GOP establishment deserves Trump, Cruz "But Republicans have nobody to blame but themselves. The party needs to own up to the kind of politics that we now have. The style promoted by Trump, Cruz and the entire tea party is a conscious product of the key decisions and strategic choices that mainstream Republican leaders have been making for decades."

He cites events back to Reagan, courting the Moral Majority, Lee Atwater under Bush 41, McCain picking Palin, Boehner and McConnell welcoming the Tea Party (at first). Also conservative talk radio, Fox News and Drudge.

As Nancy LeTourneau sums up, The Insanity Started a Long Time Ago, "Once again today, David Brooks is pleading with Republicans to “stay sane.” His supplications completely ignore the path the GOP took that led them to where they are today. As Zeilzer notes, “the alliance, the ideas, the rhetoric and the style have all come from the heart of Republican politics.” In other words, there’s no “staying” sane. That’s because the insanity started a very long time ago."

Martin Longman analyses, Why Silver Was Wrong About Trump. He starts out saying the thought the GOP was at least reasonable and how since Gingrich he's been slowly chipping away at that notion.

The moment the organs of the GOP had to shift over to defending [Palin's] preparedness and suitability to be a heartbeat away from the nuclear codes was the moment that their brain was disconnected from the rest of their central nervous system. From there, it was a short hop to climate science denialism, Birtherism, rape-don’t-get-you-pregnantism, Benghazism, and all the rest.

But [thinking Trump support would peter out] assumes that the key animators of the conservative movement are the familiar things like low taxes, a strong national defense, and a ban on abortion. Those aren’t the keys. The keys are 1) fear 2) hatred 3) greed and 4) a need to be led. Trump encapsulates those almost perfectly.

Now, you can call my assessment harsh, but I didn’t get here lightly. I did not want to believe this. I came to this way of thinking kicking and screaming. But, since I gave up giving the Republicans credit for anything more, I haven’t been wrong yet.

So, when I saw Trump badmouthing McCain, I said it would help him when most people said it would sink his campaign. I knew the base hated McCain to begin with, hated him twice-over for losing, and they’d love seeing a strong leader kick him in the teeth.

This isn’t the kind of analysis you’ll find in a political science paper or by poring over statistics. It’s raw and visceral and human. People are responding to Trump because they’re feeling xenophobic and because they want to see the Republican establishment insulted. They don’t really care about marginal tax rates or who’s been a consistent opponent of gay rights. They want someone who will get some revenge on their enemies.

Now, finally, I don’t know that Trump will win the nomination. Maybe he won’t. But I don’t see a whole lot of distance between what he’s doing and what the rest of the candidates are doing. They’re all at least as radical as George W. Bush, and the gang they’d bring in with them is unquestionably much worse that the gang that came in in 2001. Most of these candidates are far, far to the right of Dubya on a host of issues, from Israel to climate to Islamophobia to the role of the federal government in education or medical policy.

Kevin Drum wonders, Why Do So Many People Believe Donald Trump?

This really does get at a key part of Trump's popularity: a lot of people believe him. Hell, I'd almost vote for him if I believed him. We're talking about a guy who says he's going to grow the economy at 6 percent, save Social Security, cut taxes on everyone, get rid of unemployment, crush ISIS, rebuild the military, erase the national debt, and make America great again. And the icing on the cake for conservatives is that he claims to be solidly pro-life, pro-gun, pro-religion, and in favor of nice, right-wing Supreme Court justices like Clarence Thomas. What's not to like? A few minor deviations from movement conservatism? That's piffle. Why are all those establishment Republicans opposed to him?

There are reasons, of course. But primary among them is that no one with a 3-digit IQ believes he can do this stuff. Lots of it is flatly impossible, and the rest is politically impossible. And if you don't believe Trump, then he's just a charlatan with nothing left except bad qualities: he's erratic, narcissistic, boorish, racist, thin-skinned, ideologically unreliable, opportunistic, etc. etc. It's pretty obvious why you'd oppose him.

So, really, it all comes down to whether you believe Donald Trump can do the stuff he says. It's pretty plain that he can't. So why do so many people think he can? That's the $64 trillion question.

The Federal Reserve May Have Made A Huge Mistake

Matt O'Brien writes in WonkBlog, The Federal Reserve may have made a huge mistake "Markets sure seem to think that the Federal Reserve has made a big mistake. It hasn't just been stocks selling off 10 percent to start the year. It has also been bonds saying that they don't think the Fed will come close to hitting its target of 2 percent annual inflation anytime in the next 10 years. Markets, in other words, have done everything short of holding a boom box outside of Fed Chair Janet Yellen's window to beg her not to raise interest rates any more after the Fed hiked them in December for the first time in nearly a decade. And it just might work."

Krugman of course agrees, Fed Fumble.

RIP Abe Vigoda

Abe Vigoda, Beloved Character Actor, Dead at 94 - NBC News "Character Abe Vigoda, whose leathery, sunken-eyed face made him ideal for playing the over-the-hill detective Phil Fish in the 1970s TV series 'Barney Miller' and the doomed Mafia soldier in 'The Godfather,' died Tuesday at age 94."

At least as of now, abe vigoda status, an odd early website, has not yet been updated. (Update: and now it has.)

Screen Shot 2016 01 26 at 4 18 58 PM

Monday, January 25, 2016

RIP Marvin Minsky

he New York Times reports Marvin Minsky, Pioneer in Artificial Intelligence, Dies at 88. Virtually every colleague mentioned in this obituary is a genius who had a huge impact on the world (Alan Kay, John McCarthy, Seymour Papert, Ray Kurzweil, Danny Hillis, Stanley Kubrick, etc.)

Update: Here are more: Personal page for Marvin Minsky

Before, during, and after: the East Coast blizzard as seen from space

Vox has photos Before, during, and after: the East Coast blizzard as seen from space. My favorite caption: "This is a photo of millions of people digging out their cars."


In Focus has more, Wintry Scenes After a Freezing Week

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Scientists May Have Accidentally Found the Cure For Cancer

TomoNews reports, Scientists may have accidentally found the cure for cancer. "Malaria researcher Professor Ali Salanti from UCPH in collaboration with cancer researcher Mads Daugaard from UBC have revealed that the carbohydrate the malaria parasite attaches itself to in the placenta in pregnant women is identical to a carbohydrate present in cancer cells. Scientists have created the protein that the malaria parasite uses to attach to the placenta in a laboratory and have added a toxin. The combination of malaria protein and toxin finds cancer cells, is absorbed, then the toxin is released inside, causing the cancer cells to die."

"For decades, scientists have been searching for similarities between the growth of a placenta and a tumor. The placenta is an organ, which within a few months grows from only few cells into an organ weighing approx. two pounds, and it provides the embryo with oxygen and nourishment in a relatively foreign environment. In a manner of speaking, tumors do much the same, they grow aggressively in a relatively foreign environment," says Ali Salanti from the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Copenhagen. Research groups from the two universities have tested thousands of samples from brain tumors to leukemias and have found that the malaria protein is able to attack more than 90% of all types of tumors.

The Meaning of Ex Machina

This Quora answer by Mark Hughes is definitely the best thing I've read on Ex Machina, one of the best films of last year, At the end of the movie, why does Ava ask Caleb to stay in the room?. It's all spoilers, don't read until you've seen the film (and then watch it again).

Snowboarding with the NYPD

This just put a smile on my face. Yes it's wrong, but it's also fun.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Astronomers Find Theoretical Evidence for Distant Gas Giant Planet in Our Solar System

Universe Today reports Astronomers Find Theoretical Evidence for Distant Gas Giant Planet in Our Solar System - Universe Today

The astronomer known worldwide for vigorously promoting the demotion of Pluto from its decades long perch as the 9th Planet, has now found theoretical evidence for a new and very distant gas giant planet lurking way beyond Pluto out to the far reaches of our solar system.

The possible planet has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and is believed to be gaseous, like Uranus and Neptune, according to Mike Brown of Caltech, who became famous during the contentious debate on Pluto’s planetary status.

The giant new planet orbits the sun some 20 times farther out than Neptune in the distant reaches of the Kuiper Belt. Neptune orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles (4.5 Billion km).

The theorized ‘Planet Nine’ travels in a highly elongated path that takes between 10,000 and 20,000 years to complete just one full orbit around the sun, according to Caltech statement describing the work."

10 Best Opening Shots of All Time

Cinefix describes their favorite 10 (and more) Opening Film Shots of All-Time (via kottke)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Why Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders give such awful answers on ISIS

Vox on Why Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders give such awful answers on ISIS

Rather, there is a certain tension that none of the candidates wish to acknowledge here: all three have plans on ISIS that are some version of the status quo. But the status quo is unpopular; it's not an easy sell to ask Americans to look at the Middle East and conclude "let's do more of what we're doing now."

So, rather than acknowledge that they want to continue the status quo, all three candidates are describing policies that are almost exactly the same as Obama's while striving for rhetoric that suggests drastic differences where few really exist. Clinton is seeking to dress up the status quo as a new and more hawkish course, while Sanders wants to dress up the status quo as a new and more dovish course.

Clinton proposed a "three-point plan" of three things the US is already doing. Sanders merely praised Obama and then pivoted to criticizing Republicans. O'Malley urged, "We need to develop new alliances" against ISIS, though I'm not sure I could name a country in the Middle East, other than Iran or Syria, with which we are not already in some form of alliance.

The Republican candidates, by the way, are doing the exact same thing: their plans are broadly identical to Obama's. But this is easier for them to manage, in political terms, because they can criticize Obama and then present their plan as novel. Democratic candidates are in the awkward position of feeling they can neither fully embrace nor reject Obama on these issues.

Donald Trump is a Mediocre Businessman

Kevin Drum wonders why more people don't realize Donald Trump is a Mediocre Businessman

"The Plaza was a huge money loser. The shuttle was a disaster. Trump never understood the casino business, and his Atlantic City properties started hemorrhaging cash almost as soon as they were completed. All of this pushed him to the edge of personal bankruptcy, which he avoided solely because his banks decided Trump's holdings could be liquidated at a higher price if they allowed him to stay solvent. In the aftermath of this bloodbath, he raised money by taking the remains of his casino and resort properties public. And since this was a public company, we know exactly how well it did: it lost money every single year and went into bankruptcy proceedings in 2004 (and again in 2009 for good measure). Since then, he's mostly bought and managed golf resorts, which has been a good but not great business for him.

Bottom line: When it comes to building and managing tangible assets, there's really not much evidence that Trump has any special talent. He inherited a huge amount of money and nearly lost it all during his first couple of decades in the development business. However, before the money ran out he was able to use it to create the 'Trump show' (his words), and in the couple of decades since then his income has come not from building things, but primarily from licensing and entertainment.

Trump seems to have two genuine talents. The first is that he's apparently a masterful reader of people. The second is that he's a hypnotic blowhard, which accounts for his success at both branding and TV, as well as his success at scams like Trump University."

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bernie Sanders has released his Medicare-for-All plan

Vox explains, Bernie Sanders has released his Medicare-for-All plan. Here’s how he pays for it.

Hillary Clinton's campaign has been charging that Sanders' health care vision necessarily entails higher taxes on the middle class. Sanders plan is structured to try to avoid that accusation — levying its payroll tax on employers rather than employees and calling its 2.2 percent flat income tax "premiums" rather than a tax. But in effect, working people — whether wealthy or not — will be paying higher taxes. The Sanders camp's real argument is that, all things considered, the average family would save money.

Friedman finds that a typical family of four with wages of $50,000 and an employer health-plan with $4,955 in annual premiums and a $1,318 deductible would pay only $466 through the new 2.2 percent tax, and save $5,807, or 12 percent of income, on net. Friedman also finds that an employer paying $12,591 toward an employee's health plan would pay $3,100 in the new 6.2 percent payroll tax, and save $9,491.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Optical phenomenon draws a map of a city in the sky.

Optical phenomenon draws a map of a city in the sky. "It’s a light pillar. Or, more accurately, a lot of light pillars, and it’s probably the most striking example of them ever. This is terribly cool, so bear with me here a sec."


Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Truth About Benghazi Is Finally Going to Be Exposed

Kevin Drum writes about yet another example of what the House of Representatives has become under GOP leadership, The Truth About Benghazi Is Finally Going to Be Exposed.

You know what else is science? Cybersecurity. And do you know one of the key cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the US government? Email servers. And do you know who used private email servers a few years ago? Hillary Clinton. And do you know what she was writing emails about? Benghazi. So that means Benghazi falls under Smith's jurisdiction.

10 Things That Star Trek Got Right (That Have Never Been Copied)

io9 lists 10 Things That Star Trek Got Right (That Have Never Been Copied). I agree that Star Trek did these 10 things well, though a few have been done well by other shows. Stargate had an expansive universe that developed alien cultures. BSG did a pretty good job of showing the dehumanizing nature of war.

Oscar Nominations

Oscar nominations came out today.

Leaving out the short and the Foreign, Animated, Documentary Feature categories, since all the nominees have a total of one nomination, here are the number of nominations per film (those checked I've seen):

  • [ ] 12 - The Revenant
  • [x] 10 - Mad Max: Fury Road
  • [x] 7 - The Martian
  • [x] 6 - Spotlight
  • [ ] 6 - Carol
  • [x] 6 - Bridge of Spies
  • [x] 5 - The Big Short
  • [x] 5 - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • [ ] 4 - The Danish Girl
  • [x] 4 - Room
  • [x] 3 - The Hateful Eight
  • [x] 3 - Sicario
  • [x] 3 - Brooklyn
  • [x] 2 - Steve Jobs
  • [x] 2 - Ex Machina
  • [ ] 1 - Youth
  • [x] 1 - Trumbo
  • [ ] 1 - The Hunting Ground
  • [ ] 1 - The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
  • [ ] 1 - Straight Outta Compton
  • [x] 1 - Spectre
  • [ ] 1 - Racing Extinction
  • [x] 1 - Joy
  • [x] 1 - Inside Out
  • [x] 1 - Fifty Shades of Grey
  • [x] 1 - Creed
  • [ ] 1 - Cinderella
  • [ ] 1 - 45 Years

While there's no category where I've seen every film, if I see just three, The Revenant, Carol and The Danish Girl I will have completed 13 categories and seen everything with more than one nomination. Adding 45 Years and Straight Outta Compton and I add two more complete categories for all the major ones. I think that's my best start ever.

I'm surprised the leading film is The Revenant with 12 nominations. One it really doesn't interest me. Two I've only heard of two actors in it (and they both got nominated). So it's shut of actress categories, didn't get for music and didn't get for writing; yet it still got 12 nominations, basically in every other category it could.

In Best Picture, they only nominated 8 films meaning two more slots could have been used and the obvious choices were Star Wars and Carol. That's surprising. Star Wars is on track to be the biggest grossing film of all time (not adjusted for inflation) and it's not one of the ten best films of the year? That's crazy, everyone I know who saw it loved it.

I loved The Big Short, but I would have given a best directing nomination to Ridley Scott for The Martian over Adam McKay.

Supporting Actor is an odd category this year. I saw Bridge of Spies and I have no idea who Mark Rylance is. I would have given that spot to Nicholas Hoult for Mad Max. There's no way you forget Nux in that film. I had heard no buzz for Tom Hardy in The Revenant but I'll reserve judgement until I see it. I think Jacob Tremblay was deserving for Room. It will be interesting to pick this category as Stallone is the sentimental favorite and everyone else is more qualified.

It was a good year for actresses. The Best Actress nominees were all basically good picks. In supporting I would have picked Charlize Theron over Rachel McAdams.

I'm kinda thrilled that Drew Goddard is now an Oscar nominee. I'm happy Aaron Sorkin didn't get a nom for Steve Jobs.

I'm surprised Suffragette and Far from the Maddening Crowd were shut out, even in Costumes or Production Design. I'm happy that Black Mass was.

Visual Effects is filled with good movies, not just big action pieces from the summer. Jurassic World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant Man, Jupiter Ascending all were shut out. I fell like in other years San Andreas could have gotten a visual effects nom, but not this year. I'm really happy there's no Transformers nomination I'm forced to sit through to complete a category.

I wish Me and Earl and the Dying Girl got something (maybe screenplay), I thought it was great.

Also I wish Call Me Lucky got a Documentary Feature nomination. I saw three of the nominees and Amy and The Look of Silence were both amazing, but Call Me Lucky was way better than Cartel Land. I hadn't heard of either What Happened, Miss Simone? or Winter on Fire.

It would have been kinda cool if The Tribe got a Best Foreign Language nomination (it was in sign language and not subtitled and was one of the most brutal films I've ever sat through).

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

This is What I'm Still Using My Apple Watch For

Serenity Caldwell describes This is what I'm still using my Apple Watch for. Here's her list:

  • Third-party complications (and multiple clock faces)
  • Ping my iPhone (I didn't know it did this)
  • Exercise tracking
  • Notification management
  • Answering calls on my wrist
  • Siri... when it works

I don't have an Apple Watch yet. If any of you do I'm curious what your experiences with it are.

This is What Makes Republicans and Democrats So Different

This is what makes Republicans and Democrats so different - Vox "Their main finding is that Democrats are motivated by specific policy deliverables while Republicans are motivated by broader philosophical principles. But behind this finding is some interesting evidence."

Since 1945, Democratic presidents have put forward 39 percent more policy proposals than Republican presidents, and 62 percent more domestic policy proposals. "There is a good reason for this asymmetry," write Grossmann and Hopkins. "Democrats and liberals are more likely to focus on policymaking because any change that occurs is much more likely to be liberal than conservative. New policies usually expand the scope of government responsibility, funding, or regulation. There are occasional conservative policy successes as well, but they are less frequent and are usually accompanied by expansion of government responsibility in other areas."

Also, the parties are different:

Democrats tend to project their preference for policymaking onto the Republican Party — and then respond with anger and confusion when Republicans don't seem interested in making a deal. Republicans tend to assume the Democratic Party is more ideological than it is, and so see various policy initiatives as part of an ideological effort to remake America along more socialistic lines.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Film Editing as Punctuation

Nice 20 min explanation from Max Tohline (though it does spoil one of my favorite films). (via Kottke)

Gotta Love Apple Support

So this is the first thing I'm typing on a new keyboard that Apple replaced for free.

I have a wired Apple keyboard because I like the numeric keypad and they (for some inexplicable reason) don't make a wireless keyboard with a numeric keypad. It's connected to my iMac and I obviously use it a lot. I bought my first one years ago, when I connected it to my laptop when it was connected to an external display. When I got the iMac almost three years ago I got the wireless keyboard with it and occasionally use it to connect to my iPad but primarily use the wired keyboard I had.

Lately my wired keyboard has become unresponsive randomly. It's still plugged in and there's no tension on the cable but the mac stops receiving input. Today it happened for the third time in three days so I said enough and was headed to the Apple store to buy a new one for $49. On the off chance it would help, I brought the keyboard with me.

At 3:30 in the afternoon the store was crowded but not mobbed. As I walked in a couple of employees told me to wait a second and then apologized for the wait which amounted to less than a minute. My experience is that it always pays to be completely honest with them. I explained that the keyboard was becoming disconnected from my iMac on it's own, and before I could get to the part that the iMac was almost three years old and I had AppleCare the guy said, "Well can I just replace it for you?" I said that would be great.

He typed in something to his iPhone and maybe talked to someone else and we chatted for a couple of minutes until someone brought me a new keyboard. He said he was going to take it out of the box to give it to me in just the same condition as the one I brought in (loose). I said "Fine whatever you want" and loaned him a pocket knife to cut open the wrapping. As he started to do that another employee (not in an Apple shirt) came over and said he didn't need to bother, he could just give it to me in the box so it's easier to carry.

That was it. I was done. They didn't even ask me my name or have anyway to check that I had AppleCare or if it was still in warranty.

I never even got to the part where they had replaced this keyboard a year or two ago when I brought it in because I had removed the spacebar to clean it and couldn't get it back on.

David Bowie’s Genre-Hopping Career

The Economist graphs David Bowie’s genre-hopping career.

Careers of David Bowie

Monday, January 11, 2016

RIP David Bowie

I was never a huge Bowie fan but of course there are so many of his songs that are just in the fabric of culture. I've been listening to his music all day and reading article after article. Nothing has been a more poignant remembrance than this.

There are so many layers of meaning, from being a huge song on it's own, to being a very personal creation of fan in a way that only a handful of people could actually do, to being a commentary on our advancement as a species that someone could actually do this and make it available to the world to watch (and knowing that recording studios idiotically banned it before relenting).

A Politics For Technology

Ben Thompson on A Politics For Technology talks about surge pricing and market efficiencies.

The end result is a system that ensures that those who need a ride are guaranteed to get one; those who really could do without self-select out of the system, at least until more drivers are compelled to increase the supply. It is much better than the alternative, where someone who could just as easily walk a couple of blocks might by pure chance grab the taxi needed by, say, a woman in labor. That’s an extreme example, but I use it to make the point: pricing ensures those who truly need a good can get it, and, on a holiday defined by champagne, we should all be grateful.

In the context of the price mechanism, money serves the role of a medium of exchange. The problem, though, is that money serves other functions as well: specifically, money is a unit of account and a store of value. It is the latter that is the rub when it comes to Uber and the idea of allocating rides based on price. To return to the extreme example above, what if the woman in labor is poor, and the person who only needs to travel a few blocks is rich? It very well may be that the latter’s ability-to-pay will trump the former’s willingness-to-pay; this is, to my mind anyways, the most valid reason to oppose surge pricing.

Later on: "Take taxis, to stick with the Uber theme: the justification for most taxi regulations were important ones like safety, dependability, and consumer protection. Given the fact that taxis would be out on the street unsupervised it made sense to tightly control entrance to the market. However, were it possible to address all those same concerns far more effectively, through, say, precise tracking and full histories of both drivers and passengers, as well as knowledge about pick-up and intended drop-off points, would not the regulations look significantly different?"

He peters out in the end, with this, "It would be far better — and a far better match for the reality of today’s labor market — to disentangle once-and-for-all employment from the social safety net." but it was still a good read.

The Website Obesity Crisis

Maciej Cegłowski posted The Website Obesity Crisis. "This is the text version of a talk I gave on October 29, 2015, at the Web Directions conference in Sydney."

It's a long but fun read about the bloat in today's web:

Or consider this 400-word-long Medium article on bloat, which includes the sentence:

"Teams that don’t understand who they’re building for, and why, are prone to make bloated products."

The Medium team has somehow made this nugget of thought require 1.2 megabytes.

That's longer than Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky’s psychological thriller about an impoverished student who fills his head with thoughts of Napoleon and talks himself into murdering an elderly money lender.

Racked by guilt, so rattled by his crime that he even forgets to grab the money, Raskolnikov finds himself pursued in a cat-and-mouse game by a clever prosecutor and finds redemption in the unlikely love of a saintly prostitute.

Dostoevski wrote this all by hand, by candlelight, with a goddamned feather.

As he points out the problems are spread across a variety of issues. I think he pretty accurately describes the issues (and in an entertaining way), I'm no so sure of his prescriptions. For example he says: "But the ad market is going to implode anyway when the current bubble bursts. The only question for publishers is whether to get ahead of this and reap the benefits, or circle down the drain with everybody else." Yeah, that's not going to work. It's their job and in their financial interest to delay the transition so that they make more money. The way to change things is to change the incentives.

Reading this I was reminded of seeing The Big Short. One of the causes of the near financial collapse was that people could sell off risk. As a result, they could sell things that would inevitably fail, make money, and get rid of the risk so that it failed on someone else. The fact that it got so out of control that when it failed everyone failed was lost on people at the time. An idea I heard shortly after the collapse was that it used to be that banks offered mortgages and if you defaulted they lost money, so they were invented to only offer loans to qualified people. Once you could sell them off, they were invented to make as many loans as possible, to high and low quality borrowers because they weren't at risk of default. That invented the system to create more fraudulent loans. Same with other mortgage backed securities.

So to fix the web you have to fix the incentives. I'm not sure what that is, but the bloat has to cost the creators of it more. While ad servers do pay for their upload bandwidth, maybe they should also pay for the consumers download bandwidth of those ads. After all the consumers didn't ask for the ads and supposedly the sales revenue those ads create are worth the bandwidth, so maybe the sellers should pay for it. Or the ad network companies, since they're the ones building the models us so that ads can be targeted to that we only see ones that we'll actually buy.

He also says "Let’s commit to the idea that as computers get faster, and as networks get faster, the web should also get faster." and while that's right, it's not complete. The argument would mean the web would still look like that in the 90s, with few images and few features. I like some of the new design and as bandwidth increases (and it has) it's fine for sites to make use of them. But his early metrics do have value. It seems ridiculous that the web page of a tweet (limited to 140 characters) should be 900,000 bytes or that a 400 word article on Medium should be 1.2MB. Then again, those do load pretty fast for me. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

New Clinton Emails Show Mixed Concerns on Security of Information

I breezed past some article about Hillary's email dump late Friday. I caught the end of George Stephanopolis' show and someone mentioned it contained security violation that he expected her to be indicted on as a felony. I searched in the New York Times iPad app and found no article on the topic. I searched on my mac and found this (I wonder why that is New York Times?)

The New York Times wrote New Clinton Emails Show Mixed Concerns on Security of Information

On a Friday morning in June 2011, after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had waited more than 12 hours for a set of talking points to be sent to her, a top aide told her the delay was because staff members were having problems sending faxes that would be secure from probing eyes.

‘If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure,’ Mrs. Clinton responded in an email released early Friday by the State Department, one of about 3,000 newly released pages of Mrs. Clinton’s emails during her time as secretary of state. Of those, 66 documents contained classified information.

The note she sent to the top aide, Jacob J. Sullivan, instructing him how to strip sensitive material of official markings and send it in a ‘nonsecure’ way is heavily redacted, so it is unknown what the talking points were about."

That does kinda seem pretty damning.

ABC followed up, More Detail, New Questions About 2011 Clinton Email.

And on Saturday, a State Department official who wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the increasingly complicated review of Clinton's emails said the agency "checked its records and found no indication that the document in question was sent to Secretary Clinton using nonsecure fax or email."

The official, who demanded anonymity, said records instead turned up a secure fax transmission shortly after Clinton's email exchange with adviser Jake Sullivan on June 17, 2011. The implication was that this was the same document.

While the review appears to rule out the possibility of Clinton improperly receiving sensitive material, it leaves other questions unanswered.

Was the document classified or unclassified? The State Department won't say.

And was Clinton wrong to instruct a senior aide to send it through nonsecure means, even if that request wasn't fulfilled? The department says it isn't making a judgment.

Even the subject matter hasn't been revealed.

HotAir might be the first report of the issue and they seem to be pretty good about updating with some new info (though not the ABC News report above). Whoa: Hillary e-mail instructs aide to transmit classified data without markings

Face the Nation interview Hillary this morning and asked her about this. Paraphrasing, she said the aide was known to be meticulous and knew that she meant to send whatever unclassified parts could be sent. She repeated that the State Department has said that nothing classified on the topic was sent. I guess it's a fine answer, but I didn't find it convincing because of the language she used in the message doesn't match what she says her intent was. John Dickerson said the FBI is investigating this matter.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Movies Seen in 2015

Previous Years: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011

In 2015 I saw 226 feature length movies and 37 short films (those under 40 mins). That's a little more than the last three years.

Screen Shot 2016 01 08 at 9 17 05 PM

77% first run features is a little less than last year. I rewatched all the Bond films and the Star Wars films.

Screen Shot 2016 01 08 at 9 17 12 PM

I rate on the Netflix 5 point scale where 1 is hated, 2 is didn't like, 3 is I liked it, 4 is really liked and 5 is loved.

Screen Shot 2016 01 08 at 9 17 22 PM

I had a pretty average curve for me.

Screen Shot 2016 01 08 at 9 18 53 PM

Similar to last year I saw 68 features in the theater and most of the rest on cable. I only watched 2 films on Netlix this year, 2 on DVD or Blu-ray and 7 streaming.

Screen Shot 2016 01 08 at 9 19 06 PM

I've got a few theaters I go to regularly, though the Somerville gets so much because of IFFBoston. The shorts I see in the theater are the Oscar nominees when they show them at the Coolidge. Boston got a new theater this year at Assembly Row, next year there will be more food choices nearby so I'll probably go more often.

Screen Shot 2016 01 08 at 9 19 40 PM

I watched a ton in January, had my usually IFFBoston peak in April and watched a lot in October. My shorts viewing is in February for the Oscars, April for IFFBoston, and December when I found some National Film Registry shorts online.

Screen Shot 2016 01 08 at 9 20 18 PM

Yet again, my viewing was really skewed towards recent films this year. I saw 71 features from 2015 and 63 from 2014.

Screen Shot 2016 01 08 at 9 20 32 PM

Last year May and June were barren months for Oscar nominated films, this year it's just April. These are films from any year that got a nomination or won, not just from last year's Oscars. They also (obviously) don't include any films that came out this year that will get nominated on Thursday.

Screen Shot 2016 01 08 at 9 43 36 PM

Yet again I feel like I need to see more foreign films:

Screen Shot 2016 01 08 at 9 20 49 PM

I break down films into five genres that I'm pretty happy with. I then use some sub-genres and I still have a hard time putting every film in one. There are lots of Dramas and Comedies that have no sub-genre. But here's how it looks for this year:

Screen Shot 2016 01 08 at 9 21 04 PM

Below are all the films I saw in 2015:

Jan 1Dr. No1962FeatureBritain4
Jan 1Gimme Shelter1970FeatureUS2
Jan 1Inception2010FeatureUS5
Jan 2At the Circus1939FeatureUS3
Jan 2Room Service1938FeatureUS3
Jan 3CBGB2013FeatureUS3
Jan 3Go West1940FeatureUS3
Jan 4A Night at the Opera1935FeatureUS4
Jan 4Wild2014FeatureUS4
Jan 7Sidewalks of New York1931FeatureUS3
Jan 10Blood Ties2014FeatureUS4
Jan 10Parker2013FeatureUS4
Jan 10Superman/Batman: Apocalypse2010FeatureUS3
Jan 10The Other Woman2014FeatureUS1
Jan 10Transcendence2014FeatureUS2
Jan 11Frequencies2014FeatureBritain3
Jan 11Selma2014FeatureBritain3
Jan 11The Talented Mr. Ripley1999FeatureUS4
Jan 13Inherent Vice2014FeatureUS2
Jan 15and My Moulton2014ShortCanada2
Jan 15The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift2006FeatureUS2
Jan 15The Phone Call2014ShortBritain4
Jan 17Finding Vivian Maier2014FeatureUS4
Jan 17Godzilla2014FeatureUS1
Jan 18American Sniper2014FeatureUS3
Jan 19Our Hospitality1923FeatureUS4
Jan 24Captain America: The Winter Soldier2014FeatureUS5
Jan 25A Most Violent Year2014FeatureUS2
Jan 25Superman/Batman: Public Enemies2009FeatureUS2
Jan 31Bears2014FeatureUS3
Jan 31Everything or Nothing2012FeatureBritain4
Jan 31Night Will Fall2014FeatureBritain4
Jan 31The Angriest Man in Brooklyn2014FeatureUS2
Jan 31The Heartbreak Kid1972FeatureUS3
Jan 31They Came Together2014FeatureUS1
Feb 1Being John Malkovich1999FeatureUS4
Feb 1Noah2014FeatureUS1
Feb 2E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial1982FeatureUS4
Feb 2Never Say Never Again1983FeatureBritain3
Feb 2Octopussy1983FeatureBritain2
Feb 7A View to a Kill1985FeatureBritain2
Feb 7The Living Daylights1987FeatureBritain3
Feb 10Man with a Movie Camera1929FeatureRussia3
Feb 16Belle2014FeatureUS3
Feb 20Aya2014ShortIsrael4
Feb 20Boogaloo and Graham2014ShortBritain4
Feb 20Butter Lamp2014ShortChina3
Feb 20Feast2014ShortUS4
Feb 20Parvaneh2014ShortSwitzerland3
Feb 21A Single Life2014ShortNetherlands4
Feb 21Bus Story2014ShortCanada2
Feb 21Duet2014ShortUS2
Feb 21Footprints2014ShortUS2
Feb 21Me and My Moulton2014ShortCanada3
Feb 21Sweet Cocoon2014ShortFrance3
Feb 21The Bigger Picture2014ShortBritain3
Feb 21The Dam Keeper2014ShortUS2
Mar 5The Fifth Estate2013FeatureUS3
Mar 7CitizenFour2014FeatureUS4
Mar 7Edge of Tomorrow2014FeatureUS4
Mar 8Cloud Atlas2012FeatureUS4
Mar 8For Your Eyes Only1981FeatureBritain3
Mar 8Kingsman: The Secret Service2015FeatureBritain4
Mar 10V for Vendetta2005FeatureUS3
Mar 14From Russia With Love1963FeatureBritain4
Mar 15’712015FeatureBritain3
Mar 15Diamonds Are Forever1971FeatureBritain2
Mar 15License to Kill1989FeatureBritain2
Mar 15You Only Live Twice1967FeatureBritain4
Mar 21Transformers: Age of Extinction2014FeatureUS1
Mar 22The Unforgiven1960FeatureUS3
Mar 22Wild Tales2014FeatureArgentina4
Mar 24Live and Let Die1973FeatureBritain3
Mar 25A Million Ways to Die in the West2014FeatureUS2
Mar 29Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter2014FeatureUS2
Mar 30Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief2015FeatureUS4
Apr 4Fast Five2011FeatureUS3
Apr 5Furious 72015FeatureUS2
Apr 5The Expendables 32014FeatureUS2
Apr 5The Man With the Golden Gun1974FeatureBritain2
Apr 7Analogue People in a Digital World2015ShortIreland1
Apr 7Elgin Park2015ShortUS3
Apr 11Henry Fool1997FeatureUS2
Apr 12Fay Grim2006FeatureUS2
Apr 12Ned Rifle2015FeatureUS3
Apr 19Ex Machina2015FeatureUS4
Apr 22The End of the Tour2015FeatureUS4
Apr 23(T)error2015FeatureUS3
Apr 23Finders Keepers2015FeatureUS4
Apr 24The Tribe2015FeatureUkraine3
Apr 24Top Spin2015FeatureUS3
Apr 25Call Me Lucky2015FeatureUS5
Apr 25Deathgasm2015FeatureNew Zealand3
Apr 25GTFO2015FeatureUS3
Apr 25Stray Dog2015FeatureUS3
Apr 25Welcome to Leith2015FeatureUS4
Apr 26A Brilliant Young Mind2015FeatureBritain4
Apr 26A Well Designed Plan2015ShortUS4
Apr 26Blackwell2015ShortUS3
Apr 26Central Market2015ShortBahrain2
Apr 26Starman2015ShortUS3
Apr 26The Keeping Room2015FeatureUS4
Apr 26The Look of Silence2015FeatureIndonesia5
Apr 26Tobacco Burn2015ShortUS4
Apr 27Cartel Land2015FeatureUS4
Apr 27Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD2015FeatureBritain3
Apr 28I’ll See You in My Dreams2015FeatureUS4
Apr 28The Wolfpack2015FeatureUS3
Apr 29Me and Earl and the Dying Girl2015FeatureUS5
Apr 30Comic Book Heaven2014ShortUS3
May 1Avengers: Age of Ultron2015FeatureUS4
May 3The World is Not Enough1999FeatureBritain2
May 3Tomorrow Never Dies1997FeatureBritain3
May 99-Man2014FeatureUS3
May 10Far From the Maddening Crowd2015FeatureBritain4
May 11The Fault in Our Stars2014FeatureUS4
May 12Guardians of the Galaxy2014FeatureUS4
May 14Coney Island1917ShortUS3
May 15Die Another Day2002FeatureBritain3
May 15Life of Crime2013FeatureUS2
May 15Magic in the Moonlight2014FeatureUS3
May 16Captain America: The Winter Soldier2014FeatureUS5
May 16Goldfinger1964FeatureBritain4
May 16Pitch Perfect 22015FeatureUS3
May 17Footloose1984FeatureUS3
May 17Mad Max: Fury Road2015FeatureAustralia4
May 17X-Men: Days of Future Past2014FeatureUS4
May 25Hercules2014FeatureUS2
May 25Mission Impossible III2006FeatureUS4
May 25Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan1982FeatureUS4
May 31Slow West2015FeatureBritain2
Jun 2The Silver Chalace1954FeatureUS1
Jun 2The Wind1928FeatureUS3
Jun 5Saratoga1937FeatureUS2
Jun 6The Equalizer2014FeatureUS3
Jun 7Begin Again2014FeatureUS3
Jun 7I Origins2014FeatureUS2
Jun 7The Judge2014FeatureUS2
Jun 9Deep Web2015FeatureUS3
Jun 9RoboCop2014FeatureUS3
Jun 9Somebody Up There Likes Me1956FeatureUS4
Jun 11Gosford Park2001FeatureBritain3
Jun 12Boyhood2014FeatureUS2
Jun 12Million Dollar Arm2014FeatureUS3
Jun 13Gun Crazy1950FeatureUS3
Jun 13I, An Actress1977ShortUS2
Jun 13Ministry of Fear1944FeatureUS3
Jun 13The Letter1940FeatureUS3
Jun 14Jurassic World2015FeatureUS3
Jun 17A Dog’s Life1918ShortUS3
Jun 17Greed1924FeatureUS4
Jun 17The Circus1928FeatureUS5
Jun 18No Good Deed2014FeatureUS2
Jun 30Amy2015FeatureBritain4
Jul 1Inside Out2015FeatureUS3
Jul 3The Paleface1922ShortUS3
Jul 5Doctor Zhivago1965FeatureBritain2
Jul 5Underworld U.S.A.1961FeatureUS3
Jul 12The Overnight2015FeatureUS2
Jul 18Ladies in Retirement1941FeatureUS3
Jul 18The Rewrite2014FeatureUS3
Jul 19Ant-Man2015FeatureUS4
Jul 19The Big Broadcast of 19371936FeatureUS3
Jul 19This is Where I Leave You2014FeatureUS3
Jul 21Complicit2013FeatureBritain2
Jul 22Meshes of the Afternoon1943ShortUS2
Jul 24Big Hero 62014FeatureUS4
Jul 24Star Trek: First Contact1996FeatureUS4
Jul 25It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World1963FeatureUS5
Jul 25John Wick2014FeatureUS5
Jul 25The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming1966FeatureUS4
Jul 25Whiplash2014FeatureUS5
Jul 26Trainwreck2015FeatureUS3
Aug 1Lucy2014FeatureFrance4
Aug 1The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 12014FeatureUS3
Aug 1Foxcatcher2014FeatureUS2
Aug 1The To Do List2013FeatureUS3
Aug 2Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation2015FeatureUS4
Aug 4The Good Lie2014FeatureUS4
Aug 4The Sting1973FeatureUS5
Aug 8Tell2014FeatureUS3
Aug 8Playing it Cool2014FeatureUS3
Aug 9The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies2014FeatureNew Zealand2
Aug 9Rooster Cogburn1975FeatureUS4
Aug 10The Unknown1927FeatureUS3
Aug 23American Ultra2015FeatureUS2
Aug 30The Man from UNCLE2015FeatureUS1
Sep 5The Ipcress File1965FeatureBritain3
Sep 6It’s a Gift1934FeatureUS3
Sep 6The Diary of a Teenage Girl2015FeatureUS3
Sep 10We’ll Never Have Paris2014FeatureUS3
Sep 20Black Mass2015FeatureUS3
Sep 24Into The Woods2014FeatureUS2
Sep 24Why We Laugh: Funny Women2013FeatureUS3
Sep 26Words and Pictures2014FeatureUS3
Sep 26Interstellar2014FeatureUS4
Sep 27Teacher’s Pet1958FeatureUS4
Sep 27Unbroken2014FeatureUS2
Sep 27Mr. Turner2014FeatureBritain4
Oct 4The Martian2015FeatureUS5
Oct 5Room2015FeatureUS4
Oct 9Akeelah and the Bee2006FeatureUS4
Oct 11Sicario2015FeatureUS2
Oct 11Focus2015FeatureUS3
Oct 16The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter1980FeatureUS4
Oct 16Jupiter Ascending2015FeatureUS2
Oct 17The General1927FeatureUS5
Oct 17The Coconuts1929FeatureUS3
Oct 18Bridge of Spies2015FeatureUS4
Oct 21Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!1958FeatureUS2
Oct 23Taken 32015FeatureUS2
Oct 23The Boy Next Door2015FeatureUS2
Oct 24Compared to What? The Improbably Journey of Barney Frank2015FeatureUS3
Oct 24Wild Card2015FeatureUS2
Oct 24The Day of the Jackal1973FeatureBritain5
Oct 24Magnolia1999FeatureUS4
Oct 25Sin City: A Dame to Kill For2014FeatureUS2
Oct 25Find Me Guilty2006FeatureUS3
Oct 25Where to Invade Next2015FeatureUS3
Oct 26The Invitation2015FeatureUS2
Oct 27Steve Jobs2015FeatureUS2
Oct 28The Assassin2015FeatureChina2
Oct 29Anomalisa2015FeatureUS4
Nov 1Maps to the Stars2014FeatureUS2
Nov 2The Crowd1928FeatureUS3
Nov 5Casino Royale2006FeatureBritain4
Nov 6The Jackal1997FeatureUS2
Nov 7Blackhat2105FeatureUS1
Nov 8Quantum of Solace2008FeatureBritain2
Nov 8Black Hawk Down2001FeatureUS4
Nov 8Spectre2015FeatureBritain2
Nov 14Third Person2013FeatureUS2
Nov 15Kill the Messenger2014FeatureUS3
Nov 15Spotlight2015FeatureUS4
Nov 22The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 22015FeatureUS2
Nov 23One Week1920ShortUS4
Nov 23The Theory of Everything2014FeatureBritain4
Nov 25Creed2015FeatureUS4
Nov 25Bernie2011FeatureUS4
Nov 26Gone Girl2014FeatureUS4
Nov 29Trumbo2015FeatureUS4
Dec 1Suffragette2015FeatureBritain4
Dec 7Spearhunter2015ShortUS3
Dec 8Brooklyn2015FeatureIreland4
Dec 11Star Wars IV: A New Hope1977FeatureUS5
Dec 123 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets2015FeatureUS2
Dec 12Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back1980FeatureUS5
Dec 12Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi1983FeatureUS4
Dec 13Divergent II: Insurgent2015FeatureUS2
Dec 13Hitchcock/Truffaut2015FeatureUS4
Dec 14Bee Movie2007FeatureUS3
Dec 16Black and Tan Fantasy1929ShortUS3
Dec 16Dream of a Rarebit Fiend1906ShortUS3
Dec 16Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze1894ShortUS3
Dec 16The Inner World of Aphasia1968ShortUS3
Dec 16John Henry and the Inky-Poo1946ShortUS3
Dec 16The Old Mill1937ShortUS4
Dec 16The Story of Menstruation1946ShortUS3
Dec 17Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens2015FeatureUS5
Dec 19Aloha2015FeatureUS2
Dec 20Sisters2015FeatureUS3
Dec 25Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens2015FeatureUS5
Dec 27The Big Short2015FeatureUS4