Humor, Science, Technology

I Know a Hawk From a Handsaw. And a Cat From Some Guacamole

One shortcoming of current machine-learning programs is that they fail in surprising and decidedly non-human ways. A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students recently demonstrated, for instance, how one of Google’s advanced image classifiers could be easily duped into mistaking an obvious image of a turtle for a rifle, and a cat for some… Continue reading I Know a Hawk From a Handsaw. And a Cat From Some Guacamole

Plain Speaking, Politics, Technology

“Which office do I go to, to get my reputation back?”

Those words were famously spoken by Raymond Donovan, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Labor, after his 1987 acquittal on fraud and grand larceny charges in the State of New York. Perhaps thirty-nine British sub-postmasters posed that question yesterday.  (Well not quite thirty-nine, because before some of them got the chance to inquire, they died–their families and themselves… Continue reading “Which office do I go to, to get my reputation back?”

Career, History, Technology

Happy Birthday, Dub Dub Dub!

From the Wikipedia entry on the World Wide Web (emphasis added): While working at CERN, [Tim] Berners-Lee became frustrated with the inefficiencies and difficulties posed by finding information stored on different computers. On March 12, 1989, he submitted a memorandum, titled “Information Management: A Proposal“, to the management at CERN for a system called “Mesh” that referenced ENQUIRE, a database… Continue reading Happy Birthday, Dub Dub Dub!

Plain Speaking, Technology

A Huge “Thank You” to Readers of my Blog

Thanks to you, I feel no need to go back to "pointless, incessant barking."  Whether that means I'm engaged in "pointful, incessant barking," or "pointless intermittent barking," I'll leave it to you to decide. Have at it. This blog exists for two reasons; first because I think, on rare occasions, I have something worthwhile to… Continue reading A Huge “Thank You” to Readers of my Blog

Literature, Technology

Occasional Quote of the Day: Rossum’s Universal Robots

“Robots of the world! The power of man has fallen! A new world has arisen: the Rule of the Robots!” — Karel Čapek Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti (Rossum’s Universal Robots), a once-popular 100-year old play by Czech writer Karel Čapek, made its television debut on the BBC, 82 years ago today, on February 11, 1938. It was… Continue reading Occasional Quote of the Day: Rossum’s Universal Robots

History, Technology

The Origins of IBM in the U.S. Patent Office

One-hundred thirty-one years ago, on January 8, 1889, Herman Hollerith, a young man born to German immigrants in New York City, himself a graduate of Columbia University as an “Engineer of Mines, was granted a patent, part of which read as follows: The herein-described method of compiling statistics, which consists in recording separate statistical items… Continue reading The Origins of IBM in the U.S. Patent Office

Literature, Science, Technology

Occasional Quote of the Day: Worlds Beyond Earth

“I have loved the stars too truly to be fearful of the night”– Sarah Williams Sarah Williams was a British Victorian poet who is best known for “The Old Astronomer,” written in the person of an elderly astronomer on his deathbed who speaking to his young pupil. Her output is short, as was her life (1837-1868),… Continue reading Occasional Quote of the Day: Worlds Beyond Earth

Food and Drink, Science, Technology

Friday Food and Drink Post: Snacks ‘N ‘At

Actually, I probably should have phrased the title of this post “Weird Snacks ‘N ‘At.” The “‘N ‘At” part is an homage to my nearest (and dearest) metropolitan area, the place I go on the rare occasions when I put on grown-up clothes and shoes, do something about my face, hands and hair (starting with, most unusually,… Continue reading Friday Food and Drink Post: Snacks ‘N ‘At

History, Miscellaneous, Technology

Gentlemen, Start Your Bloomin’ Engines!

Well, here we are just a few days from the start of this year’s Indianapolis 500, and the delivery of the famous exhortation to begin. From 1977 to 2017, the phrase was amended to include “Ladies” as well, if there was one or more competing. Such a rational response in this day and age that… Continue reading Gentlemen, Start Your Bloomin’ Engines!