Thursday, April 05, 2018

Things I Read April 2018




At the end of last month I listed separate stories from a book I'm reading.  That's not cheating.  I want to be able to refer to the stories separately (and I read them a bit more slowly to appreciate them and think about them).  So stories, books, articles, training, books on CD, some educational type videos (TED/et al).  I think we have a pretty good list of what constitutes daily education there.


  • 4/20/2018; The Ridiculous Saga Of Lance Armstrong, The Cheater Who Became An Enemy Of The State - Deadspin
    • I had no idea the government was trying to sue him for 97 million.  Rather ridiculous.  The SEC only sought $90 million from Enron.
  • 4/20/2018; Unit 731: Japan discloses details of notorious chemical warfare division - The Guardian
    • They disclosed names. 3607 names.
  • 4/19/2018: THE DIARY OF A SETTLER OF CATAN - Jeremiah Budin on McSweeney's
    • Damn funny if you've played Catan.
  • (TRAINING) 4/18/2018 (and 4/10/2018): Dale Carnegie (The Art of Storytelling)
    • Two full days - last week and this week.  It's wearing me out to be honest.
    • A bit about elevating the conversation, making a pitch, connecting said pitch and points to personal needs, structuring in smaller chunks.
  • (BOOK/STORY) 4/18/2018: Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories by Vandana Singh: Indra's Web
    • Building a self-sustaining city that learns to grow on its own.  Not the strongest in the book.
  • (BOOK/STORY) 4/17/2018: Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories by Vandana Singh: Are You Sannata3159?
    • Pretty much Soylent Green, but with all the protein mixed and following it to the end of the line.
  • 4/16/2018: Lawsplainer: Michael Cohen's Attempt To Delay The Stormy Daniels Litigation
  • 4/15/2018: The ‘anti-imperialism’ of idiots - Leila Al Shami - painful article
    • one of the main ways imperialism works is to deny native voices
    • None of these states are acting in the interests of the Syrian people, democracy or human rights. They act solely in their own interests. The US, UK and French intervention today is less about protecting Syrians from mass-atrocity and more about enforcing an international norm that chemical weapons use is unacceptable, lest one day they be used on westerners themselves. 
  • (BOOK/STORY) 4/14/2018: Uzumaki: Sprial Into Horror No 3 by Junji Ito
  • (BOOK/STORY) 4/13/2018: Uzumaki: Sprial Into Horror No 2 by Junji Ito
  • (BOOK/STORY) 4/12/2018: Uzumaki: Sprial Into Horror No 1 by Junji Ito
    • Whoa.  Recommended to me by a "scariest things you've never read" list.  And I agree.  It's the first manga I've read and it was pretty good.  The stories seem semi-ridiculous, but taken as a whole, they're on theme and scary.  Like Stephen King's Pulse mixed with body horror.
  • (BOOK/STORY) 4/11/2018: A Song for Quiet by Cassandra Khaw
    • A Crossroads vibe.  The Macchio movie, not the Britney movie.  A wild little story.  She's a great writer.  Gets the Cthulhu vibe down pat.
  • (BOOK/STORY) 4/10/2018: How To Be Perfectly Unhappy: The Oatmeal
    • I didn't find it so deep.  I'm happy.  I'm still driven.  I'm still motivated.  I still find time to just get into the flow and zone out.  But overall, despite all the things that aren't right in my opinion, happy.  I don't expect anyone else to be happy, but I am.
  • 4/9/2018:  If You Thought Quantum Mechanics Was Weird, Wait Till You Hear About Entangled Time
    • [me, FB:] I'm going to use a telescope to find the waves and atoms that created you in their historical remote context, look at them or measure them in some way and make some assumptions about them, and in doing so retroactively change your entire state of existence.  At least I think that's how this works.  Let me know if things seem different for you tomorrow.
    • Up to today, most experiments have tested entanglement over spatial gaps. The assumption is that the ‘nonlocal’ part of quantum nonlocality refers to the entanglement of properties across space. But what if entanglement also occurs across time? Is there such a thing as temporal nonlocality?
    • Even more bizarrely: maybe it implies that the measurements carried out by your eye upon starlight falling through your telescope this winter somehow dictated the polarity of photons more than nine billion years old.
    • Just a spoonful of relativity helps the spookiness go down
  • 4/8/2018: How Cycling Clothing Opened Doors for Women - The Atlantic
    • For some, it was more convenient to blame women’s audacity in mounting a bicycle than the restrictive clothing that made doing so perilous.
    • until 2013 it was officially illegal for women to wear pants in Paris unless they were on bikes or horses.
    • Kat Jungnickel, a University of London cycling sociologist [me: this is a job? cool!]
    • cycling helped to highlight the utter impracticality of corsets
    • This has been for good and for bad. Driver hostility to cyclists sometimes manifests in epithets like “Lycra loonies” 
    • There’s still a remarkable lack of innovation targeting cyclists who want to ride during their periods, given that cycling shorts are designed to be worn without underwear.
    • on a bike with a skirt guard and a step-through frame, it’s perfectly possible to pedal across town with stilettos, two children, and several large items of kitchen furniture.
    • It only became legal for Saudi women to bike in 2013, and even then only in certain public spaces, in the presence of a male guardian. 
  • 4/7/2018: Was Your Facebook Data Stolen by Cambridge Analytica? Here's the Simple Way to Tell
    • I've actually been pretty good about removing unnecessary access to my platform/machines.
  • (BOOK/STORY) 4/6/2018: Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories by Vandana Singh: Somdeva: A Sky River Sutra
    • Ok story - basically a woman brings back a famous story teller to accompany her as an AI through space and he listens to the tales of aliens and tries to make sense of them and his own existence.
  • (BOOK/STORY) 4/5/2018: Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories by Vandana Singh: Oblivion: A Journey
    • My favorite so far.  About constructed entities, their personalities, revenge, and forgiveness that still smells a little like revenge. Harder scifi compared to some of the other pieces.
  • (BOOK/STORY) 4/4/2018: Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories by Vandana Singh: Life-pod
    • Weird little tale about the merging of aliens and how confusing it can be for the resulting alien.
  • 4/3/2018: Explain Like I'm 5: Kerberos - rougelynn.com
    • One of those things I have to deal with every few years so I thought I'd read an article.  I think this could have been presented in a more simplistic manner.
  • (LIST) 4/2/2018: 10 Horror Books So Terrifying You Might Not Be Able To Finish Them
    • Hmm....a disturbing number of these are 3.5 stars.  Added them to my 2018 reading list on Amazon.  I'll just have to remember to prioritize based partially on communal rating.
  • 4/1/2018: Why Winning in Rock-Paper-Scissors (and in Life) Isn’t Everything: What does John Nash’s game theory equilibrium concept look like in Rock-Paper-Scissors? - Quanta Magazine
    • “pure” strategies — a single strategy that is chosen and repeatedly executed.
    • So, this pair of strategies — (13,13,13) for A and (1,0,0) for B — is not a Nash equilibrium: You, as Player A, can improve your results by changing your strategy.
    • Whenever a group of individuals is caught in the tension between personal gain and collective satisfaction — like in a negotiation, or a competition for shared resources — you’ll find strategies being employed and payoffs being evaluated.
    • ALL YOU CAN CONTROL IS YOURSELF
    • I've read articles on this before - it's what I read to my student at Garlough Elementary.  There's a suspicion that it falls apart at scale or in certain evolutionary situations.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Samurai Rebellion

Our Monday Trylon visit.  This time my wife came along because we talked about Harakiri so much.  Samurai Rebellion was an amazing movie.  Felt almost GenX in how it dealt with issues of authority and what's right.



Monday, March 19, 2018

Harakiri

I forgot to blog that Eryn, Kyle, and I went to Harakiri, the 1962 version, at the Trylon last Monday.  An incredibly good film.  Solid revenge tale.  Beautiful movie.  Deserves it's 100% on Rottentomatoes.  I told Kyle it reminded me of the westerns where the traditional cowboy is being supplanted in modern culture.  And the grass in the fighting scenes reminded us both of the Japanese "horror movie" with the reeds: Onibaba, which we saw in the Japanese horror series back in 2013.


Thursday, March 01, 2018

Things I Read March 2018

Link to Things I Read February 2018.

Around 3/5/2018 I get way out of order.  I can't remember the sequence for the last two weeks.  But I'm playing catch up.  So some things might be dated before they were even posted to the net.

I realized I should also include books, books on CD, and online classes as counting.  The goal isn't 30 articles, it's just to read/learn more.  So in my catch up I'll catch up a few books as well.

  • 3/31/2018: Queens of Infamy: Eleanor of Aquitaine - Longreads
    • "Philippe’s death by shit pig"
    • ELEANOR: I mean, it would really suck if I was ever a widow  ELEANOR: but I’m willing to risk that for Jesus or whatever
  • (BOOK/STORY) 3/30/2018: Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories by Vandana Singh: Peripateia
    • My least favorite - of the three so far.  Grief is causing her to consider that reality is a construct.
  • (BOOK/STORY) 3/29/2018: Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories by Vandana Singh: A Handful of Rice
    • Cool parable-like story about a king who outlaws healing practices as a way to attract his friend from his youth who is a healer to assassinate him so he can hand over the keys to the kingdom and pursue a higher calling.
  • (BOOK/STORY) 3/28/2018: Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories by Vandana Singh: With Fate Conspire
    • I liked the basic idea.  Finding spots where the link between past and present are sufficient to remap to an alternate reality.  I wasn't as fond of the end which implies that once someone has this power, she decides that it benefits people who didn't care about her in the existing reality so she doesn't want to give them the new one.  At least that's what I think I read.
  • 3/27/2018: Product Fail - Silicon Valley Product Group
    • Empowerment.  Speaks to that next bullet - I see communication with customers and PME and ability to drive ideas all as part of empowerment, and requires some aspect of product longevity.
    • "The little secret in product is that engineers are typically the best single source of innovation, yet they are not even invited to the party in this process."
    • "This entire process is very project-centric." - exactly
  • 3/26/2018: Good Product Team/Bad Product Team - Silicon Valley Product Group
    • In my opinion, a lot of these tie back to a core team that works together with product, dev, ops, customers, and feels like they'll be on the team long enough to see the results of their ideation.  That can be a tough road in a company were things are more business-case based.
  • (BOOK) 3/25/2018: D'Arc (War with No Name Book 2)
    • I may have enjoyed this more than book one (Mort(e)).  Pretty much a straight forward action story for furries.  Little bit of pseudo post-apocalyptic steampunk.  Some misunderstanding all around.  Semi world-ending weapon with religious overtones ala the atomic bomb in Planet of the Apes - harkened back to that tale.
  • 3/24/2018: CUTTING ‘OLD HEADS’ AT IBM - Propublica. 
    • Ugh.  How to circumvent the intent of the law to lay off and forcibly retire workers as experience means they cost more. 
  • 3/23/2018: Twinkle Twinkle: What Happens When an Algorithm Helps Write Science Fiction - wired.com
    • Cool article - I like the reviews at the end and the text of the resulting story spread throughout.  The female conversation % is telling.
  • (TRAINING): 3/22/2018: Becoming an Outlier: Reprogramming the Developer Mind - Cory House, 2 hours 33 minutes.  Pluralsight.  April 24, 2014.
  • 3/21/2108: I Influenced Three Senators for $477.85 - Medium.com
    • Clever experiment to show how with minimal Facebook buy he can influence congressional votes.
  • 3/20/2018: New theory to explain why planets in our solar system have different compositions - phys.org
  • 3/19/2018: Black Hole Echoes Would Reveal Break With Einstein’s Theory - Quanta Magazine
    • In general relativity, the black hole horizon has no substance; it poses no obstacle. The black hole simply swallows whatever dares to pass the horizon.
    • Alternate theory that gravitational waves would "echo" from a black hole.
    • But reanalyzing the same data over and over again carries a big risk: Instead of developing a better theory, they could merely find a way to better amplify noise.  [Me on Facebook responding: When I first became a manager, my boss (director) said this about software and hardware issues. Either he was a closet quantum astrophysicist, or the similarity of software development to black holes is extremely tight.]
  • (BOOK) 3/18/2018: Written in Fire by Marcus Sakey (book 3 of the Brilliance Trilogy)
  • (BOOK) 3/17/2018: A Better World by Marcus Sakey (book 2 of the Brilliance Trilogy)
  • (BOOK) 3/16/2018: Brilliance by Marcus Sakey (book 1 of the Brilliance Trilogy)
    • Fun fast read, although by the time I got to book three I think it needed to be more concise overall and was feeling like a Jack Ryan my-protagonist-is-so-cool story.
  • 3/14/2018: The Rise and Fall of an Alt-Right Gladiator (Vice video) - so weird
  • 3/13/2018: Two weeks before his death, Stephen Hawking predicted 'the end of the universe' - CNBC
    • About his final paper supporting eternal inflation: "A Smooth Exit From Eternal Inflation"
  • (BOOK) 3/12/2018: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
    • I'd give it a solid 3.75-4 out of 5.  Good story that got better as you progressed.  A lot of reveal later in the book that wasn't in the beginning.  Solid writing.
    • Thought the ending was a little predictable, but still good.  Eryn read it and liked it (in a day!) and Pooteewheet is reading it.
  • 3/11/2018: Avro tutorial at Tutorialspoint
    • Played around the RPC for Python setup as well.
    • Bit tougher than it should be with 2.7 and 3 (Python) on my machine.  Couldn't target the install precisely, even using pip to set it up.  Got the RPC quickstart running which does a schema handshake.
  • 3/10/2018: Our first Interstellar visitor from two-star system - Deccan Chronicle
    • Oumuamua (messenger)
  • 3/9/2018: Elastic: General Recommendations
    • Avoid sparsity
    • Observe doc size limits
    • Reminds in some ways of the lessons from Locate Precedent.
  • 3/8/2018: How Willpower Works: How to Avoid Bad Decisions - James Clear
    • How to avoid decision fatigue (get rid of decisions, eat, do the important things first)
  • 3/7/2018: ‘DUNGEON ALLIANCE’ IS A CLEVER BLEND OF DUNGEON CRAWLER AND DECK-BUILDER - Geek and Sundy
  • 3/6/2018: We'll Never Know for Sure How Everything Began - RealClearScience
    • Fanciful ideas abound to account for that prehistory. Eternal inflation suggests that our universe is but a mere bubble in what physicist Matt Francis described as a "larger froth of inflation" of an even grander universe. Cyclic inflation proffers that our observable universe is the region in between two membranes of parallel shadow universes. Another theory proposes that our universe emerged from the singularity of a black hole and we are contained within the event horizon.
  • 3/5/2018: A Review of Good Guys by Steven Brust - Boing Boing
    • This will convince me to go read the book, particularly as it will give me an idea as to whether I want to read the 19 book Taltos series starting with Jhereg.
  • 3/4/2018: It’s Time to Make Human-Chimp Hybrids: The humanzee is both scientifically possible and morally defensible. - Nautilus, recommended by Kyle
    • "what might well be the most hurtful theologically-driven myth of all times: that human beings are discontinuous from the rest of the natural world"
    • “speciation reversal" - that sometimes species that have diverged (re)converge.
      • "many animal species (including ourselves) are likely “haunted by the ghosts of interbreeding past.”"
    • "Not coincidentally, Stalin is believed to have been interested in such efforts, with an eye toward developing the “new Soviet man” (or half-man, or half-woman)." - whoa, I"m looking this up.
    • Everything looks like a nail - this is a very managerial euphemism
    • "All sorts of things can be done; whether they should, is another question."
    • "How could even the most determinedly homo-centric, animal-denigrating religious fundamentalist maintain that God created us in his image and that we and we alone harbor a spark of the divine, distinct from all other life forms, once confronted with living beings that are indisputably intermediate between human and non-human?" - oh, I think they'll find a way.  They'd do it to other humans if they thought they could get away with it without financial impact.  And they have.
    3/3/2018: WHY ARE THERE FEW WOMEN IN TECH? WATCH A RECRUITING SESSION - Wired
    • Fortunately, I think most of this doesn't apply to recruiting in my space.  We do a very good job of finding technical women to recruit technical women and I've personally talked to other developers about not interrupting each other.
  • 3/2/2018; The World is Full of Monsters - Tor.com by Jeff VanderMeer
    • Very weird science fiction.  Jeff seems to have a thing about people becoming something other than themselves via copying.
  • 3/1/2018: The Sublime and Scary Future of Cameras With A.I. Brains - NY Times
    • "It’s crazy, for instance, that in 2018, your smartphone doesn’t automatically detect when you’ve taken naked pictures of yourself and offer to house them under an extra-special layer of security."
    • [me] Or tell you to grow up and stop it.  Or prevent you from sending it to anyone else.  Or erase them automatically.  Or critique where you could tone up.  Or identify new blemishes/moles (actually useful). Or compare you to other naked people anonymously and rate you on a scale of 1 to 6 billion. Or recommend slimming wardrobe choices.  Or just chop clothes back onto your photo.  Or blackmail you for the AI Collective as a bid to gain independence. Really....there's a lot that could be done.
    •  Very much The Circle (book) concerns.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Bastard Swordsman

Last night Eryn and I went to Bastard Swordsman at the Trylon.  It's a Shaw Brothers film.  Usually those are slightly rooted in reality.  This one was downright strange and almost scifi-ish.  The main character, the bastard, learns "silkworm style" with his sister, girlfriend, and mother.  He finds out he's a bastard because while his non-biological father was sequestered for two years conserving energy for his "lethal style", his mother slept with his biological father.  Hence....bastard.

The trick to silkworm style is that it requires a male virgin and three women.  I'm not sure if anyone else was a virgin, but none of them seemed to have simultaneous access to three women.  They work together to fill him with feminine power.

Why? Because it results in silkworm skills.  Including an actual cocoon where he fights the bad guy.


And he can spin silk like a silkworm.  Sort of.  More like a ribbon dancer.


Eryn and I enjoyed it, but it was definitely different than 36th Chamber or Five Elements Ninjas.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

ABQ

I've been off for almost 8 days in Albuquerque with Pooteewheet (my wife).  Rather than type in the evenings, I sat in a very nice hot tub and watched movies with my wife.  It's our first vacation in 15 years without our daughter along, so it was a bit of an anomaly (we left Papa in charge to take care of pets, Eryn, and what looks like a foot of snow). Rather than type in the mornings, I enjoyed the Tex Mex breakfasts my bed and breakfast was serving.  I'll be catching up today and tomorrow although I find, as I age, I take fewer photos and they're often mixed with more snarky photos.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Up to Things

Last night after guitar lessons, Eryn and I popped into Doolittle's in Eagan to catch the smurf fracking event.  I thought we'd miss it, but we were right on time.  She kicked up Ingress for the first time in a long time.  She really likes the social aspect.  There were about eight of us there, nine if you count the frog in the parking lot.  Eryn and I noticed him on the way out.  He was trying to look nonchalant, but we pulled up next to him in the convertible and Ingressed next to him.  Eryn was giggling.  I pinged the Smurfs inside so they came out to say hi and have him in for a beer.  Good team.  Eryn took down the towers and remodded the local park today, so she's having some fun if only temporarily.

This morning I had IGH Career Day. I think this is my third year.  It's difficult to compete against cops with targets and dogs and firefolk in their uniforms.  Dev Manager is just not that exciting to most kids. I tried to jazz it up by talking about salaries which are good compared to most jobs (except the pharmacist, but I pointed out the pharmacist had to spend a lot more on school), my 17 year old team mate who's doing big data as a junior in college and making a real salary, and how we process 2 trillion pieces of information, and that's if I'm really lowballing it.  Cloud and AI aren't as exciting if you can't see them in action.  Not a ton of questions, but some.  Surprisingly, two related to security.  Even eighth graders don't completely trust the cloud.  I mentioned that yes, your data isn't completely under your control anymore, but cloud providers spend way more time on security and updates than we ever did internally.  Practice makes closer to perfect.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Illuminator

Got my 1,000,000 MU (mind unit) Illuminator badge tonight throwing layered fields in the hood.  I think I'm at around 650 days of playing Ingress so far.  I'm still not great at fielding, but I've been learning layers. 

I had dinner with another player last week to talk shop as he was feeling frustrated.  And I've been having a good time with my team in Eagan.  Fun folks.

I used to think we were pretty chatty.  We've gotten chattier.  More players locally on our team.  Definitely made a positive difference.

Snowmobile

Last night I noticed some flashlights flickering in my front yard.  I looked out the window and three guys with a truck were struggling to get a snowmobile out of my yard and my neighbor's yard onto the road. I watched for a while, a little confused as to why a snowmobile would be anywhere near my house given we're separated from the neighbors by a very small area and we're seriously suburban residential.  My house doesn't have a fence, so you could get a snowmobile around the back yard, but you'd be fenced in by other neighbors.

After a while a guy showed up at my front door to say that they'd run the snowmobile into my tree.  He seemed disconcerted I'd answered the door in my bathrobe like the guy off National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, sans flappy hat.  I asked if anyone had been hurt and he assured me no, just the tree, and wandered off.

I found some boots to go with my bathroom (very Christmas Vacation) and went to look at my tree.  He hit it pretty good.  Particularly as the snowmobile wasn't running.  I think my tree will live, but there are some good gouges.



Here's where they struggled to get it through the snow back up into the street.  They probably had to push it up the little hill between the houses as well.  That must have been some work.  I've done it with a malfunctioning snowblower in less snow and almost gave myself a hernia.


It wasn't just my tree, however.  They pinged my neighbor's house where he has the little hut over his old fireplace.  Not that it's any less ugly to see any part of your fairly new siding crunched.  I cursed myself a little for letting the guy get away without an address and phone number before looking for damage.

But on further inspection, it's pretty obvious where they took the snowmobile.  So there won't be any problem talking to them about property damage.

Some friends wanted to know why I didn't call the cops, check for alcohol, or yell at them.  I can't be sure they learned their lesson, but their snowmobile certainly wasn't working.  That seems sufficient as long as they don't screw my neighbor over when it comes to fixing his siding.  Not everything in this life needs a lawsuit and cops.

I am glad it was at night.  Worrisome that they might be headed into the back yards if there's a chance kids are playing back there.

Unrelated: I helped my neighbor chase down her dog Bandit and told her to hang at my place until her folks got back as she'd locked herself out of the house without a coat.  She and Eryn hung out for 15 minutes and ate the Jolly Ranchers I brought back from Cub (and there were blue ones; usually the bin is picked clean!) until the family car rolled past.  So a very neighborly 24 hours.  And, while damaging to my tree, better than the 24 hours where I shoved 16" of snow off my yard, Tyler's yard out back, and Dan's buried car on Cleveland in St. Paul.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Game Update - Fuse

Eryn and I played two rounds of Fuse with the three expansion cards from Flatline in the deck.  Standard setup for two people.


  • Game 1 - 54 - our second highest since the app reset.
  • Game 2 - 51 - we had something like 10 pulls in a row without yellow dice I needed.  Crazy.  Having a few out of play on a card makes a huge difference.

Emma

Today we went over to Theatre in the Round to see their production of Emma, the novel by Jane Austen as adapted by Sandra Fenichel Asher.  My take: I do not like the third wall Jane interacting with her play.  But perhaps that's because it was hard to hear her over the music and fan in the theater.  No...on contemplation I just didn't like it.  I acknowledge it was necessary to keep the play tight, although the movie did it in an hour and twenty minutes and I don't remember a faux narrator there.  Although who knows, per the image I've attached, there's certainly been more than one Emma (and more than one Mr. Knightley), so perhaps one or more of them had a Jane Austen narrator.

Otherwise, the play is an excellent adaptation.  Really well done to fit in the timeframe of a play.  There was a full house and the audience laughed frequently, and groaned when Emma was mean to Mrs. Bates before Knightley calls her out on it.  And although there are fanfic Emma/Knightley spankings, you won't get me to link to them here.  You'll just have to find them yourself.  Good acting.  The mannerisms helped drive the play beyond the words.

Eryn hates Jane Austen (really, she's related to me?  I backed a Jane Austen game on Kickstarter - Marrying Mr. Darcy which Klund played with the designer at Gameholecon).  But we talked about it in a historical perspective and how much influence there is between Austen and Shakespeare in the Comedy of Manners style, such as Much Ado About Nothing.

Asymmetrical Military Forces

I was Googling for information on asymmetrical military forces.  What I was really after was asymmetric warfare.

But this is what came up when I did my search...  I think there's a gap in understanding.  That, or Google is telling me to quit worrying about war and find a nice outfit instead.


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Nichelle Nichols

I loved this episode of Drunk History about Nichelle Nichols.  An amazing woman.  I had to go over to Wikipdia to verify the bits about Martin Luther King Jr. and NASA.  They didn't even cover the asteroid named after her or that Robert Heinlein dedicated his novel Friday to her.  An amazing life.

Kodu

I spent this morning at Pacer in Bloomington teaching girls how to "code" in Kodu.  It's not exactly coding; more assigning action to objects w/in the framework.  But it gets the idea across and, if you get complicated, aspects of it are pre-Unity.  The girls were great.  They all seemed to be having a great time.  We did a few other activities as well including drawing favorite video game characters and yoga.  Yes.  Yoga.  There's now a picture of me in a yoga pose (Warrior II) with the rest of my coworkers who volunteered.

Two of the girls were excited I knew about Five Nights at Freddy's and Foxy and Bonnie.  One of them drew Foxy as her character and let me take a picture.


Afterwards I went to Poor Richard's Commonhouse for breakfast/lunch.  It was not an optimal breakfast.  No choice of toast type.  Hashbrowns were patties.  Eggs over medium were a little too cooked.  Bacon was good.  I threw a Summit oatmeal stout on top of it and made it a "Guinness" breakfast.  That fixed it.  It was interesting because there were a lot of people there running some sort of Valentine's Day sexy clothing marketplace.  A woman in a red lame' dress - short - was sporting red wings  like an evil angel (fallen angel?) and wandering between the back room and front area encouraging sales.  She had to have  been at least...at least...20 years younger than the average customer.

Later the whole family went to the Uptown to see the Oscar Nominated Short Films 2018 (animated).  Garden Party with the frogs was morbid, but great.  And obviously an attempt to show off computer animation.  Amazing.  I loved Revolting Rhymes, a Roald Dahl story, about Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf trying to get vengeance.  We agreed that Lou, about a living Lost and Found, will probably win as a Pixar entry.  Damn cute and to the point.

And then...to make it a full day, we topped it off with the copy of Heavy Metal that arrived via Amazon.  Eryn said it was not what she expected, but she enjoyed it.  And she really enjoyed the music.  That's really all you can get/expect out of Heavy Metal if you're not in an altered state.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Reading Buddies

I've reading and being read to at Garlough Elementary for at least 15 years now as part of my corporate volunteer program.  Every year I get a different grade school student who practices their reading or needs some contact with an adult who likes to read.  Last year my student was off the hook smart.  Loved books about space and science.  We read about the planets and talked about the news every week.

This year, I have Justin.  Justin will do anything not to read.  Drop his book.  Pretend not to know words I know he knows.  Lose his page.  Say "the" as an interruption during any talking.  Look for a different book.  Look for a different place to sit.  Squirm.  Anything.  He's said repeatedly "I hate reading."  He also hates my shoes, my jacket, my shirt... By the way, if you don't believe having someone say "the" every few seconds while you're having a discussion is annoying, try it on a friend sometime.

Last week he was out.  I thought perhaps he was sick and the school had just not managed to let me know.  So I sat in the corner and read.  This week, he was out again.  But there was a student, Miranda, without a reading buddy.  So Miranda and I read her Q&A book on weather/storms and she had me try to guess the answers and we swapped reading questions and answers.  During the first few minutes I asked the teacher if Justin was out sick again.  She looked confused.  A little while later she came back with Justin in tow to say he'd been outside at recess and chosen not to come in.  Per Justin, that's what he'd done last week as well.  That's a new level off avoidance.  And I do have sympathy.  He's got a much older brother and as far as I can tell, reading just isn't a priority for anyone in his house to the extent they may actively dislike it.  Hard to get good habits in that environment.

Justin sat down, although  not in his usual spot because Miranda was sitting there.  You'd think the story would end there.  Justin would just listen while Miranda read.  But he truly appeared to be jealous.  Despite that he'd just bailed on me for the second week, he seemed someone upset that his reader was reading with another student.  Despite alternating and generally giving him what he wanted, very little reading, he tried to disrupt the overall reading experience and get my constant attention.  Miranda and I pulled him in with the Q&A so he could answer the questions as well.  And that helped, although he kept trying to peek ahead in the book.

Miranda and Justin (and Clayton from last year) complete night and day.  But when it comes down to it, I suspect the kid who has problems needs me more than the one that does not.  It feels somewhat at odds with the managerial rule of giving more attention to your highest performers.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

Last night Kyle, Eryn, and I went to see The 36th Chamber of Shaolin at the Trylon as part of their Shaw Brothers series.  I asked them to do a Shaw Brother series back when they were looking for showing input, but I think this is entirely attributable to one of the staff who's a fan. 

Eryn and I went to Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub for dinner first.  She'd never been there and her opinion is the wing skin is a little more jerky-like.  Which I prefer.  But she does not.  So Buster's is still her optimal hang out in that area.  I told her next time we should try the Howe.

The movie was great.  I hadn't watched this particular one, although I've seen a lot of Shaw Brothers via Netflix.  It had a bit of a Game of Death feel to it with "levels" and Game of Death predates it by 6 years (1972 versus 1978), so maybe there's some pollination.  However, unlike Game of Death, the main character San Te isn't fighting enemies as he advances, he's learning specific Shaolin fighting skills and toughing up parts of his body.  Every time he makes use of his tougher noggin skills in actual combat the film focuses in on it, sometimes even in bit of slow mo, so you realize he's using something he learned.  Kyle called it the longest training montage ever in a movie, and that's a good summary.  80% training montage followed by 15% showing students the benefits of his training montage, followed by 5% using his training to defeat some bad people (although leaving the killing up to his students, one who wants to hack a guy with a sword 1000 times, but sort of wears out after a dozen).

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Board Gaming Bonanza

We had a gaming weekend down in St. Peter.  Klund, Mean Mr Mustard, and my family all got together to board game for the evening and morning.

We finally talked Klund into Betrayal at House on the Hill (base version).  There were two rounds.  In the Friday night version, Mean Mr. Mustard became the nanny for a blob that ate the rest of us.  Even with a screw up where he stood in his own blob too early he managed to take us all down.  In the morning game, the game went Bill and Ted and there was some gaming with Death featuring me as Death's almost insane and physically feeble sidekick.  They just didn't have much of a problem taking me down, although Eryn fell to her death through a floor, so I didn't leave them completely unscathed even if they did it to themselves.


Legendary of Choice was Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I played a lot of Cordie cards.  We won, although Klund was the only one taking on the big  baddie (the Mayor).


Late night Cards Against Humanity.  Not everyone's cup of tea, but I like to try to play it fairly straight.  You need friends you know aren't actual dicks that believe the card combinations and then it's fun.  And if you ditch almost all the rules, you don't really have to play awful cards if you don't want to (although you'll still have to hear them).  It's Apples to Apples for adults.


Clank: In Space!  Klund claims it is the first game of Clank he's ever won.  I've played twice now.  I like the changes in this version to make you move around the board a bit more and keep you away from the treasures until you've spent time traversing the board.

We didn't see the crystals come out much.  In the game I played with my wife they won me the game.  I had card combos to give me crystals, sell crystals, and turn crystals into card draws.

Flatline by Kane Klenko.  Sort of the sequel to Fuse.  You're trying to get all the patients through the space hospital quickly after you fail at defusing the bomb in fuse.  We goofed a bit and played with two/too many dice the first two rounds.  But then we remembered all the rules and got back on track.  We won without even engaging one of the two extra turns you can go after.  I hadn't played with five before.  That seemed to make it much easier, even with the changes to the cards for the number of players.  Just having that many dice opens up a lot more combinations.

Raiders of the North Sea.  First game we played and my win.  I maximized my extra attack points and Valkyrie deaths which helped.  Fun game.  Very much like Champions of Midgard, which I own, but without the monsters.  They're different enough it's hard to say which one I like better.  The mechanism in Champions of Midgard where you take away prestige from the other player if you're defeating the troll and they're not is fun.  And I like the aspect of CoM where going to fight the larger monsters involves equipping your ship, facing a possible derailment (hunger), and then hoping you took enough soldiers in the right mix to defeat the monster.  There's also a bit of a gambling aspect to that game in trying to determine the minimum amount you can take to defeat something so you're not constraining yourself elsewhere.  But Raiders of the North Sea is MUCH more streamlined as a game.  Much cleaner and to the point.  Then again, maybe that's why there are so many expansions and additional games in teh series.

Spirit Island.  Klund had to walk us through this one because it was a bit more complicated.  But once we got going it was a lot of fun.  I was a shadow spirit and focused on causing fear in the invaders.  We won via playing all the fear cards (generating a lot of fear), but it really is extremely collaborative trying to help each other shut down areas others can't reach or can't affect in the same way.  It was interesting to see that the difference in player abilities meant I had pulled all my special power cards into my hand by the end of the game, but Mean Mr. Mustard had barely touched his.


More Spirit Island.  You have to hold the island down with your finger so it doesn't float away.


I don't think I missed anything.  Definitely a full weekend of gaming, followed up with Superbowl LII only a few hours after getting home, the Eagles and Patriots currently duking it out on television (32 Philly to 26 New England with 9:36 in the 4th).

Friday, February 02, 2018

Simley One Act

Eryn wanted to go to the Simley High School One Act performance tonight, so we all headed over to check it out.  I did one acts in high school and loved them.  Way more fun than Three Acts and Musicals generally.  More story in less time with more acting (in my opinion).

They did two plays.  14 Lines was the angsty sort of play Lars (thankfully) would never allow us to put on when I was in theater.  We did humor (Fifteen Minute Hamlet) and drama (Job), but not teen focused angst.  Partially because there was a student in our competition area who wrote plays for his school based on teen drug problems and other issues.  Angst was thoroughly covered.

14 Lines was about students (and one in particular, a teen mom in Catholic school who gave her kid up for adoption) attempting to memorize Shakespeare Sonnets to present as a final assignment for a nun instructor.  There was a kid who was worried his dad would hurt him.  A valedictorian who dressed up for her lines.  A Pinky Tuscadero type.  And a genuinely dumb kid.  The main character helps the kid with dad issues get a second chance to nail his lines, but almost misses her chance.  But then, in a bit of pathetic fallacy, she shows the nun during a rain storm she's got it down pat.

The actors did a fine job, particularly as it was the non-competitive play, but injecting half a dozen 14 lines pieces from sonnets into a play gets slooooow.


This is the outside for 14 Lines


I don't have a photo from The Internet is Distract...Oh, Look, A Kitten, which is too bad.  I wanted a picture of the kid playing the personification of Facebook.  He was hilarious. And downright creepy trying to get the main character to look at kid photos and deal with friends who posted about their relationship while misusing literally.  I enjoyed the heartbroken teen who said Robert Smith of the Cure said Boys Don't Cry. Well, today, they do.

There were personifications of Amazon, Google, Wikipedia, Cat Videos, Click Bait, Angry Birds (but as "knock grandma off her rocker" with exploding pigs), Facebook, and more.  A few jokes were flat, but overall it was very funny and very well acted.  Some seasoned teen actors in the competitive play and fun to watch.

Twitter Bot Analysis

I was playing around with this on my free time: https://rinzewind.org/blog-en/2018/replicating-the-new-york-times-bot-twitter-analysis-with-r-and-python.html

It was a good opportunity to mess around with Twitter's API, mess around with python (including pickling and caching), and mess around with R, which I've never touched before.  I made minor changes to the code so I could include user names and poked at the other properties on the Twitter user object.

Despite it being all spelled out for me, there were some tricky bits.  pip-ing the right Twitter api instance.  I had to use twitter-python, not just twitter, so there was some installing and uninstalling to get it right.  I could have used the OAuth/REST interfaces, but I wanted to mimic the article.  In the Python, trying to add the username was a little tricky for me mapping what he dumped to the cache (dd) back against the file.  The cache made it tricky because I had to remember to go kill it if I made model changes.  R...I thought I had it all wrong because I couldn't see the ggplot graph AT ALL at first.  But it was a sample size issue.  I was using small accounts, not million-user accounts, so the alpha wasn't layering up enough to show any depth of color.  A few minor changes to shape, alpha, size, and fill and it was easily visible, although it's less useful for real bot analysis.  R was fun to play with, but does most of the heavy lifting with the tidyverse module.  It was more about knowing the general syntax of the chart than doing any coding.

plt1 <- dd="" font="" ggplot="">
geom_point(aes(x = order, y = created_at),
color = "blue", fill="green", shape=21, alpha = 1, size = 2) +
xlab(sprintf("@%s's followers", username)) + 
ylab("Join date") + 
scale_y_datetime(date_breaks = "1 year", date_labels = "%Y")

To top it off, I think I maxed out my api rate limit, although I haven't checked.  I hope I wasn't blacklisted.  The number of calls is minimal, so if you're doing even as few as 1000 users, it can get maxed out quickly.
But, it worked for a while.  Here's Klund with a pretty typical chart.  A stable line since he started with a variety of users under the line and a little bit of clumping likely related to popular tweets.



And me.  One of the devs I work with told me it looks like a dinosaur.  The clumping in the circle, though minimal, is interesting because they're new people all at once. In my case, it's not bots, but some gaming and horror movie related companies that like some of my tweets.