Google Made a Booboo

Turns out that some Nest products have built-in microphones, which fact was only recently disclosed to users. The possibilities for abuse are endless. Looks like Bruce Schneier’s predictions, expressed in his book Click Here to Kill Everybody, are coming true. From the book’s blurb:

From driverless cars to smart thermostats, from autonomous stock-trading systems to drones equipped with their own behavioral algorithms, the internet now has direct effects on the physical world. [emphasis added]

Don’t worry, though. Google admits that not disclosing the microphone “…was an error on our part.” Rest assured they are very sorry. You’ve had a hidden microphone in your house but don’t worry; nobody was listening. Move along; nothing to see (or hear).

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Alibaba’s Robot Warehouse

Here is a short video from Business Insider UK about Alibaba’s robotic warehouse.

Who is Alibaba?  According to Wikipedia:

With operations in over 200 countries and territories, Alibaba is the world’s largest retailer and e-commerce company, one of the largest Internet and AI companies, one of the biggest venture capital firms, and one of the biggest investment corporations in the world. The company hosts the largest B2B (Alibaba.com), C2C (Taobao), and B2C (Tmall) marketplaces in the world. Its online sales and profits surpassed all US retailers (including Walmart, Amazon and eBay) combined since 2015. It has been expanding into the media industry, with revenues rising by triple percentage points year on year.

The robots, which can lift up to 500 kg, pick up densely packed bins and bring them to human pickers who place the products in boxes for shipment to customers.  The robots are controlled over Wi-Fi.  They say that after the 60 robots were placed into service, throughput in the warehouse has been tripled and human labour reduced by 70%.

Amazon has been running a robotics challenge to try to eliminate the human pickers.  This is a video summarising the  2017 challenge in Nagoya, Japan.

Here is a video from the MIT team from the 2017 competition.

The Roaring Twenties are 314 days away.

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What’s your line?

No, this is not about a game show. This is about the thickness of your pen’s line. Do you like a fine line, medium, or bold? (I know someone will say pencils are the way to go but my response to that is. Lead poisoning.) Here in the Rising Sun place it seems 0.5 mm is quite common. I just bought some 0.28 mm ones so I could write some detailed Chinese characters. Mitsubishi Pencil Uni Style Fit ones for those keeping track.

Have any of you been to a Japanese stationery store? They have some wonderful stuff. Part of this is that Japan was such a handwriting culture. To write things in such detail they needed good paper with good pens and pencils. Recently there is a trend to make your own multi-color pen by buying the refills to put into a separately bought holder.

How many of you even write by hand anymore? Is everything on a PDA/phone now?

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Why of Course

The news media likes to say that college educated people skew to Democrats. This gives the impression that uneducated people are not wise enough to see their “enlightenment”. This is not the case as much as the universities are bubbles of Democrats. They are microcosms of failed policies of government largesse. It is getting to the point that “college educated” is an oxymoron.

Example: AOC

I think Peter Thiel has it right. He pays people to not go to college so they can get an education.

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Why do we put off what we “want” to do?

I find life interesting. That is why I like this site so much. I was on a call talking about ewe and about good wethers. There are few places that you can talk about animal “wifery” in between the politics. (Or is the word now animal “parentry”?)

Okay, I am putting off the subject that I really want to write about. I really want to write about it but the other thing seemed more interesting. And the main subject might require work. Can we talk about bellwethers for a while?

Back to life. We seem to live in two temporal worlds. We are in the now and the preparing for the future. Our wants conflict. What we want now is different than what we want in the future. That is a poor way to put it. Our wants now conflict with the wants in the future. For example if we want to be slim we can’t eat anything we want now. But people do and still say they want to be slim. Can one really be honest and say you want something while one is doing the opposite of the things to get it?

Getting to the title, it seems we like to put off things that are productive. We wait as if more time makes things better. Deadlines are our lifelines to get some things done. They force us often to do things we want to do but would rather put off. Good people know when they are saying I want X in the future means I give up Y in the present. They order their wants. Do you do this? How do you handle wants?

Hey, I am at the end of my post. That wasn’t too painful, was it?

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A Study in Fake News

A friend and former colleague sent me a link to the following brief article: A Strong Start to Sierra Snowpack. It purports to be a factual report of the water situation in California. Such stories are always interesting for the things they leave out: the dog that didn’t bark.

Start with the title. Since the snowpack is already above the normal peak, which is referenced to April (seasonal peak), it would be more accurate to say that the snowpack is already well above average for the whole season though it’s still only February. That’s more than a strong start. Furthermore, though the 2017-2018 year was below average, the prior year was well above average. Together, they were about average.It is in the nature of snowfall to fluctuate from year to year.

Next, the article states that “…most of the reservoirs are already more than half-full, and several have water levels that are above the historical average for the middle of February.” It would be more accurate to write that all the reservoirs but one are at or above the historical average for February. The exception is Oroville, which is low because of a major structural failure two years ago. Furthermore, all of the reservoirs are more than half full, which is also misleading because it’s not normal for them to ever be full. Should they ever be almost full, the headline would be “Reservoirs Nearly Full: Flooding Crisis Looms” since they would need to release large amounts of water, which could raise downstream rivers to flood stage.

This 300-word article manages to pack in a tremendous amount of misinformation, brought to you by NASA. This brings to mind the Gell-Mann amnesia effect, or in more modern parlance, fake news. Also relevant is Mencken’s observation  that

Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

I would only change the last half to read “…the whole aim of practical media is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

Snow is forecast for tomorrow and Thursday in the Sierra.

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Punch, Counter Punch

For those of you who view the seven month omnibus bill a disaster, I suggest you read the signing statement from Whitehouse.gov.

Signing Statement

He has a Senate who is owned by the Chamber of Commerce and Democrats who ae owned by Big Tech who want outsourcing of all skilled jobs.

This fight is nowhere near over. We have Trump and they have trillions of dollars at stake. If this fails, it will be civil war or submission for most of us.

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The 2020 Campaign – Wealth and Freedom for The Working People

This video is quite telling on where the Trump campaign sees the winning issues.

It is long and you can fast forward over the music intervals. If you just want to see Trump- go to 1:19 time and see the best use of Melania yet.

Trump is going for a coalition of working people with real jobs and families , all races who want America to be the place they can build wealth in freedom.

I do believe he has positioned the Democrats to be coming down on the opposite side of that.

Hanging Venezuela around the necks of his opponents is a nice touch.

If you watch the whole thing, you will see Marco Rubio once again changing sides.

This will put the GOP Donors in a complete quandry…Hillary was available for purchase, but the current crop of Dems may not be worth the money to buy them. Where to go… I hope they choke on it.

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