Friday, January 21, 2022

Another one bites the dust


Friday Smirk

J&M on point as usual. Religions seem to be most successful when they are self-inoculating, i.e. they invent ways of handling any objection via unfalsifiable or intangible positions that are immune from attack, "slippery" would be another word for it. Comic books do the same thing, for example, Superman would be boring and pointless if it weren't for Kryptonite. Realizing that most of the narratives underpinning the main religions are simply the result of centuries of evolution of the most resilient stories (plus a lot of banal padding) illustrates the point, holy books are just literature, created by men in order to control and censor others, everything else is imaginings around what people would like there to be rather than what actually is.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Data, data everywhere..

One of the things that the software my company does and one of the core pieces of technology that I worked on myself in the early days of the firm (when it was just me!) was a method and pipeline of processing that unpicks news stories. When I say "unpicks" what I mean is that the software tries to identify companies, people, places and useful business topics within the text of each story, in other words it tries to "make sense" of the story for a particular audience. This is a lot harder than it sounds, there are so many different ways that the same things can be talked about in the English language and company/people names are hugely ambiguous and can be abbreviated or implied etc. There is a whole branch of computer science dedicated to this task called "Natural Language Processing" and it's interesting stuff! Anyway, I've always been impressed at the amount of data we process, it's a 24x7 operation with roughly two million new stories coming down the wire from around the world every day and we store roughly 10 years worth of stories so that when a new topic comes along we can go back through all that history and see which stories may be talking about it (essentially re-process the entire corpus) 

The numbers are scary, trillions of words, billions of articles and millions of companies are being looked for every day by a rack full of machines all whirring away in the dark. It's impressive, that is until I look at the volumes of data they have to deal within the "hard sciences", like physics. 

Just imaging a black hole, for example, takes 5 petabytes of data, that's mind boggling, our entire corpus (10 years worth of news) is only 3 terabytes or three trillion characters but the black hole data is over a thousand times bigger than this. Now that's what I call BIG data..

Cultural drift..

The term "racist" seems to mean something different these days, it seems to have drifted from what it used to mean say 5 or 10 years ago. It used to be reasonably clear that discriminating against someone purely because of their race (i.e. the immutable fact of their origin and therefore certain aspects of their phenotype) was bad (and illegal). Nowadays though it seems that using the wrong adjective on twitter or (legitimately) disagreeing with activists who claim to be anti-racists can be worthy of the label. This "lightweight" application of the term is frustrating to many liberal minded people. 

Surely something as serious as this shouldn't be thrown around willy-nilly and logically, the more it's used as a trivial put-down the less weight the accusation carries. At some point "real" racists are  going to be protected because no one takes the claim seriously any longer. Unfortunately, for those looking to take a shortcut to censorship or virtue signal their opposition to something on social media, the real world is much more complex and nuanced than this! It seems to me that clarity of thought and evidence having sufficient weight to carry an argument or accusation needs greater intellectual investment than many are willing to apply.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

First Fifty


I always take a breather from regular exercise over the Christmas break, I'm also pretty relaxed about eating crappy food and imbibing outside the normal weekend constraints, my logic being that the holiday is more enjoyable because it's distinct and different from the day to day and in some ways one is released from the hum-drum and can be free from thinking about routine for a week or so. Consequently my regular exercise and weight/fitness stats take a dive at the end of December! 

Fortunately (for me!) I'm a fairly disciplined type of person and get back into the swing of things reasonably quickly. Last year I was hitting a rate of around 50 km per week in terms of walking, in the first full week of January I only managed 44 km but last week I notched up the first 50 of 2022 which felt good, and this week is on track for the same, let's hope the weather holds!

Twilight Zone

So, we seem to be well and truly in the Covid twilight zone, that stage in an infection wave when all the A-type people who score highly for extroversion are strutting around pretending it's all over and acting like everything is normal (de-masking in Waitrose etc.) and the neurotic science types are putting their hands up and saying "hold on a minute 440 people died of this disease just yesterday and hospital admissions haven't levelled out yet", such is the plastic nature of the delusion-reality gap, no wonder it's taking so long..


Monday, January 17, 2022

Monday Mirth

Ha ha, coughing has replaced farting and become socially unacceptable in public places..


Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sunday Walk

Wife and I went for a brisk 5 mile walk this afternoon in the Winter sunshine, only stopped once, there was a fork in the road.. boom, boom.. (good pun value but not ideal if you drive over it!)


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Strata Friday

As I've said many times on this blog before, I do enjoy exploring things that have unique and/or unusual flavours, beer, wine, cheese etc. all of those classic food and drink stuffs that have huge variety and pair so well together to make even more possibilities. Had one of these while making dinner yesterday evening, it's a beer I've had many times before from top brewers DEYA down in Cheltenham called "Steady Rolling Man", in fact, it's such a legendary beer in craft circles that people just say "SRM" and people typically know what you're talking about. Anyway, this version was different, same malt and water recipe but a different hop, rather than the usual American "C" hops (Citra, Centennial, Cascade etc.) this version used a new variety called "Strata" which was released in 2018 and has since become the darling of craft brewers around the world. People say it's flavour is the union of passion fruit and cannabis, I concur, tropical fruits with a pithy dank and funky undercurrent, smooth, hazy and velvety! Very good indeed.


Friday, January 14, 2022

Perfect for parties..

Attended a little gathering (w/pre Lat flow checks) on new year's eve around a mates house, he had his two grown up Son's home from Uni as well and so I figured we needed a bit more than a few cans to keep us going until midnight. So, I purchased a "mini-keg" (5 litres/8 pints) from my local craft brewer Siren of a hazy pale ale called "Medjuica". It went down a treat, really good levels of carbonation and flavour, probably better than in can, the lads certainly appreciated the concept and we polished it off in fairly short order (I'd forgotten how much 20 year old students can put away!) Anyway, a big success and something I'd definitely recommend if you have a craft brewery local to you then see if they do mini-kegs to take away, they're a perfect size for a small party (saves you having to nip out to the coop with a suitcase mid way through...) especially when there are a few beer loving blokes coming round to play on your swing.


Friday Smirk

Me, I love a contradiction..