5 Things To Be Thankful For

“This continent, an open palm spread frank before the sky.”

—James Agee, American novelist, born November 27, 1909

Counting Our Blessings

0 La Paix embrassant lAbondance - P.P Rubens - Yale center for British Art
  1. Peace. After Veterans Day, I read Barbara Tuchman’s classic account of the origins and first month of World War I, The Guns of August. I’m very thankful for peace. I wish everyone in the world lived in peace.
  2. Freedom. We have the right and the ability to say and do pretty much anything we damn well please. We may often wish some of our fellow citizens could be restrained from expressing the awful things they think, but that’s the price. Right now our liberties are under serious threat from governments and corporations taking advantage of technology to infringe on them. It’s an arms race, and we’d better hope that the Internet really does route around obstacles.
  3. Diversity. We were in Springfield yesterday. We got to the excellent Panjabi Tadka Restaurant and found it closed. No problem: we just went on over to Pho Saigon Restaurant and had some wonderful Vietnamese food. We are rich because we have new friends and neighbors from all over the world who bring with them new foods, ideas, entrepreneurial energy, words, art, music…
  4. Medicine. My partner, the Crazy Orchid Lady, is having some problems with cardiac arrhythmia, so I’ve been learning a bit about remarkable range of heart problems that can be fixed in in a few minutes with relatively safe, non-invasive procedures. By the way, the COL’s electro cardiologist attended medical school in Mumbai.
  5. Electricity. Think of how you feel after a few hours without power as a thought experiment. Now try to imagine:
    1. Living in a less developed country where there isn’t reliable electric service. Now you have electricity, now you don’t.
    2. Living in the past before there was any electrical power available.
    3. Living through a major failure of the contemporary electrical grid.

Today and Tomorrow in #westernma

Today you’d better be getting ready for Thanksgiving!


Google “deep learning” Tech: There’s More than One Way to Scan a Cat

Bad Idea Machine lolcat“…a front-page New York Times article revealed that after Google fed its ”DistBelief” technology with millions of YouTube videos, the software had learned to recognize the key features of cats….Google’s deep-learning tech works in a hierarchical way, so the bottom-most layer of the neural network can detect changes in color in an image’s pixels, and then the layer above may be able to use that to recognize certain types of edges. After adding successive analysis layers, different branches of the system can develop detection methods for faces, rocking chairs, computers, and so on.

“What stunned Quoc V. Le is that the software has learned to pick out features in things like paper shredders that people can’t easily spot – you’ve seen one shredder, you’ve seen them all, practically. But not so for Google’s monster.”

If this doesn’t terrify you… Google’s computers OUTWIT their humans

The Last Word

“All the lessons of history in four sentences: Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad with power. The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small. The bee fertilizes the flower it robs. When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”

—Charles A. Beard, American historian, born November 27, 1874

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