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Archive: June 6, 2015

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whining about wine point inflation

Saturday,  06/06/15  05:02 PM

Our society is plagued with inflation on various fronts; we all know, for example, that an "A" isn't what it used to be.  (And sadly, it seems this is just as true at "top" schools as it is at the "bottom".)  SAT scores have been "normalized" to the point where they scarcely distinguish between the best students.  And just about everyone gets an 8 or 9 on Dancing With the Stars.  Etc.  On top of it all, there is a serious sort of inflation taking place in wine scores.

In case you don't know, Wines are traditionally scored on a scale from 1-100, where 100 is perfect, anything over 90 is amazing, and stuff below 80 is dishwater.  When I first started paying attention, twenty years ago or so, it was unusual and special to find a wine in the 90s, and the high nineties was amazing.  No longer, sadly; it seems just about any wine scores a 90 or more, good wines are routinely in the high 90s, and 100s, while still rare, are not unknown.

(In this connection, I reject absolutely the rebuttal that wines are getting better.  Nope.)

There are two problems caused by this sort of inflation.  First, of course, it makes comparison from year to year difficult.  If a fine Stag's Leap Cab from 1997 scored 96, then how should we regard a new release which scores a 98?  One needs a translation table, something that shows "98 in 2011" = "92 in 1997".  Even with such a table, much is lost in the translation.  The second difficulty is that as scores get compressed against 100, the available range of scores is diminished.  In 1997 there were 10 different values available between great (90) and perfect (100).  Now there are perhaps only 5, great being 95, and perfect still being 100.  The compression at the top is the worst; with merely great wines getting 100s, how can we distinguish those once-in-a-lifetime wines which actually are perfect?

I just received an email advertising the latest release of Stag's Leap, with the subject line "potential 100-point 2012, a profound example of this iconic wine".  It might be amazing, but to pretend it is a possible 100 points at initial release is a bit much.  I'll probably still buy it but I don't have any way to compare it to vintages of the past.  I guess I'll just have to do it the old way, and drink it.


Saturday,  06/06/15  05:26 PM

A quiet Saturday, my first in a while; slept in and have been quietly coding on something new...  in the meantime, let's see what all is happening "out there", shall we?

InTouch Health telepresence robotI recently had a chance to visit InTouch Health, who make "telepresence robots" for medicine.  Incredibly cool.  Check out this video of one of their robots in action...  looks like the future is here!

DARPA robotic challengeSpeaking of robots, DARPA recently sponsored a robot challenge competition, you can see excerpts from it here...  so cool.  (These DARPA challenges seem to drive a lot of innovation, don't they?)

Dana Stalder thinks the first battle in the mobile payments war is over (and PayPal have lost to "the networks").  Hmmm.  I wonder if that's the right way to view it.  I think of the participants as consumers, merchants, and banks...

Interesting idea: data furnaces, cloud servers installed in homes which supply free heat to them.  Reminds me of reading recently that one of the reasons Iceland has become popular as a server hosting site is the ease of cooling.

CNN: 35 years!CNN celebrates 35 years of CNN.  Wow, 35 years!  Can't quite believe it has been that long...  I sure remember when they burst on the scene, with the first gulf war.

Hmmm ... this man is trying to get rid of "one man, one vote" in the Supreme Court.  There's actually more to it than that, the argument is really about proportional districting; should each district be based on actual people, or registered voters.  The latter, it would seem to me... so as not to include illegal aliens.

Wow, who knew?  The EPA have ruled that fracking is safe.  At least with respect to its potential impact on drinking water; the possibility that fracking causes earthquakes, very much in the news, was not considered in their ruling.

Yawn: Foursquare now lets you order an Uber from within their app.  Not clear why this matters; but then again, I never did get Foursquare at all.

Here comes the Airplace ... :)Classic satire: Here comes the Airplane, a startup that offers to spoon-feed customers.  At least I think it's satire; I must say, these days the Onion seems saner than a lot of "real" news.

Disappointing, but not surprising: Tests show TSA misses 95% of weapons and explosives.  The whole TSA is nothing more than a PR stunt for the government to convince us we're safe.  And of course, it's a make-work project too.

Nerd talk: Gallus and Simo debate whether the Bitcoin block size limit should be increased.  From Bram Cohen, creator of BitTorrent, which despite the similar name is unrelated.  My takeaway is that nothing is going to change.


mixed mates (NY 5/18/15)

Saturday,  06/06/15  07:38 PM


"mixed mates"
I love it :)



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