Critical Section

Wednesday,  05/13/15  10:57 PM

Whew, what a day; spent much of it coding in Excel, and the rest coding in English.  Not my favorite, but it had to be done.  (Only coding in Powerpoint is worse :)  Perhaps tomorrow I can get back to Visual Studio ... (oh, wait a minute, no; I'm going to watch the Amgen Tour of California's stage from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita in person...)

Svenja Staats - magical violinLast night I attended a classical music concert with my Mom featuring some young Dutch musicians traveling in the US.  It was an enjoyable evening, and the highlight was a young violinist named Svenja Staats, who was absolutely amazing.  She did things with a violin I had never seen before; plucking strings with her left hand while bowing with her right, and bouncing the bow on the strings like a drummer while playing an intricate melody, sounding more like Joe Satriani than Itzhak Perlman.  Wow.

How to deny a question's premise with one word.  "Mu".

Watts Bar nuclear power plantThe Watts Bar nuclear power plant, first launched in 1979, nears completion in 2015.  "The Tennessee River site is a cautionary tale for the power industry. When it’s finished, it will provide enough electricity to power about 650,000 homes in the Tennessee Valley. The cost of running a nuclear plant is relatively steady, and it does not produce greenhouse gases and other air pollutants."  I continue to be amazed that Greens have not embraced Nuclear Power.

Meanwhile: Obama Sells Out the Environmentalists.  "No one is willing to sign up for poverty in order to combat global warming... The real role that global warming plays on the Left is strictly rhetorical: it can be useful to beat up on Republicans. But the Democrats have no intention of doing anything material about the crisis they pretend to believe in."

So this is interesting: Seymour Hersh claims the White House lied about how they found and killed Osama Bin Laden.  Hersch has an uneven history with the truth; since breaking the My Lai story in 1969 he's brought forth various "conspiracies" which later proved overblown or downright false.  Still this could be a case where there's enough smoke to indicate some fire.  Certainly nobody could doubt the Obama Administration would lie to serve their own political interest.  I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this...

classifying art by artists - machines are better than human expertsThe machine vision algorithm beating art historians at their own game.  "Classifying a painting by artist and style is tricky for humans; spotting the links between different artists and styles is harder still. So it should be impossible for machines, right?"  This doesn't surprise me; Visual Search is getting more sophisticated all the time.  The computer doesn't "know" this is a Van Gogh, it only knows this "looks like" that, at a low level...

News item: Verizon are buying AOL for $4.4BMG Siegler notes this interactive history of AOL's growth, including buying Compuserve ($1.2B in 1997), Netscape  ($4.2B in 1998), Hughes Electronics ($1.5B in 1999), Mapquest ($1.1B in 1999), and of course merging with Time Warner ($165B in January 2000).  That was the high point, it's been all downhill from there, to the point where they're just an accumulation of other media companies like Huffington Post and TechCrunch.

When I was running Intuit's Bill Payment team, back in 1999, partnering with AOL was the most important deal we could do.  Hard to remember at that time they were the 800lb gorilla, much bigger than the Internet.  Yahoo were a distant #2, and Google were a teeny company in one building across our parking lot.

R2-D2 themed Volkswagen busThis *is* the droid you've been looking for: Artist creates R2-D2 themed Volkswagen Bus.  May the Force be with it!

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