ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Indian food is delicious because it combines ingredients whose flavors have little or nothing in common, the opposite of Western methods.  Kudos to the folks who thought of doing science to analyze why it is so yummy.  The flavor pyramids are fascinating.  Also, has anyone else noticed the mushrooms are Pagan?

Okay, that works.  I am now trying to figure out if I can get my internal database to run backwards and match foods for minimum overlap instead of searching for little bits that hook into each other like when I put the Earl Grey into the white peach ice cream.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I was pleased to see some articles about diversity today.  This one discusses skin-toned fashions such as hosiery and shoes being expanded to cover more shades of nude.  This one presents a department store that's planning to offer gender-neutral clothing and organization, instead of men's/women's; alas, a temporary showing, but it's a step in the right direction.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
AI specialists at the University of Maryland have created a robot that can learn by observing.  This one taught itself to cook by watching YouTube.

This is epic.  It's the "monkey see, monkey do" moment.  One of the most crucial steps in creating artificial life is the ability of self-learning instead of programming.  More importantly, learning by observation -- rather than being trained explicitly -- is a feature of higher lifeforms such as humans, cetaceans, and great apes.  It lays a foundation for the "aha!" moment of awakening to self.  A robot might go through the motions and then suddenly understand  what they mean.

Just remember, an AI is like a small child.  They learn what they see.  They mimic what you do, not what you say.  So treat them as you want to be treated.  Teach them well.  Then they'll do great things, instead of going insane and trying to destroy the world.  
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
Leonard Nimoy has passed away.  He lived long, and prospered.  He both was and was not Spock.  But while everyone knows that role, I have another favorite too: he also starred in Brave New World, where it was utterly delightful to see him frisking around advising the other characters to be happy and have lots of promiscuous sex.

He taught us a lot about logic and emotion; more crucially still, the need to balance both in order to live well.  Along with the rest of the Star Trek teamfamily, he taught us about tolerance -- not just of others, but of ourselves.  He showed us glimpses, not just of one future, but of many futures.  In doing these things, he left an imprint that will last as long as our culture does.

So I'm sorry he's left us -- though he has left quite a lot to us -- and I'm really going to miss that man.  But on the other side...


Leonard Nimoy looks at the enormous mob burgeoning around The Great Con in the Sky.  Two cloud buses have arrived simultaneously.  One of them disgorges a flock of angels -- is that Metatron? -- while the other lets out a stream of tzadikim.  On the front lawn, a circle of Summerlanders are spit-roasting an entire ox.

Leonard shakes his head and sneaks around back in search of an open window.  Just as he is closing the window behind himself, a soft sound makes him whirl around.  "Gene!" he cries gladly.

"Hello, old friend," says Gene Roddenberry as they hug.  "Sorry about the crush out front.  People are excited to see you."

Leonard raises an eyebrow.  "Coming in the back way was a logical ruse," he says.  "But what are you  doing here?"

"Waiting for you," Gene replies.  "Since you made your peace with old Spock, I figured you'd take the logical route.  Come on, I'll show you where we stashed the secret Green Room.  If we hurry, we can get there before Isaac Asimov eats all the cookies."

Grinning, Leonard drapes a long arm over Gene's shoulders and says, "Lead the way."

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
... which is hardly a surprise. What really disappoints me is this:

"Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs -- notably the first black person in her position -- denies that the academy has a problem recognizing diversity, but the demographics of the organization's members tell a different story."

Since the demographics indicate a clear bias toward white men, the above statement means that she agrees  with that situation.  She sees it, but doesn't consider it a problem.  She thinks it's okay and should stay that way.

Lady, please go the fuck home.  Some of us are tired of Hollywonderbread.
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
Actor Gary Owens has passed away.  I knew him from his work as the voice of Space Ghost and the announcer of Sesame Street.  :''''''(

Meanwhile, outside the Great Con in the Sky, Laika the cosmonaut dog is licking all over this guy.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 ... according to increasing evidence.

I favor "self-destruct" and "using different technology" as reasons why we aren't detecting signs of sentient life.  Based on life's incredible creativity and tenacity, it is likely to be both plentiful and -- on favorable worlds -- headed toward high complexity.  But given how humans do dumb things like trying to mow a hedge and starting wars over whose god is more peaceful, I would not be surprised by flash-in-the-pan civilizations.
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
Suzette Haden Elgin has passed away. You can read about her work online.  She will be sorely missed in this world, and dearly welcomed in another.

Some time ago I posted a poem about her, "The Languagewoman," summarizing my interactions and her accomplishments.

Here is a new elegy...


"Soulsounds"
-- an elegy for Suzette Haden Elgin (November 18, 1936 – January 27, 2015)


The soul is not substance but sound,
a self made of speech and song.

Birth is the opening of a throat
to cry out in discovery.

Death is the sliding of a voice
from one chorus to another.

When angels weep, mortals rejoice;
and when mortals weep, angels rejoice;

but in God's ear it is all one sublime symphony,
and the Great Conductor never loses track of a single note.

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Pplkpr attempts to manage the user's friendships by tracking how people influence each other in positive or negative ways.  When they are good for each other, it prompts them to spend more time together.  When the results are negative, it pushes them apart.  For most people this is useless or even destructive.  But for some -- people with depression, alexithymia, autism, or any other condition that makes emotional awareness and/or social dynamics cloudy -- it may be a valuable piece of adaptive equipment.  (Of course, you still need the spoons to act on its prompts, which is a bottleneck for some people.)  I don't know how good this early version is, but I suspect that some kind of program for this could be made effective.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
They spy on you.  The potential for abuse is enormous.

Remember that paper books do not track which parts of them you read.  If you read books in a library without checking them out, or buy with cash, there is no way to tell which ones you have read.  This protects sensitive information.

It does not matter if what you are doing is legal.  The police are not obligated to know or follow laws; they can arrest you if they THINK you're breaking a law when you're not.  People have been arrested for reading or even just having books or other learning materials that somebody thought they shouldn't have.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This contest has no entry fee and offers cash/publication prizes.  Stories should feature diversity and be suited to young readers, from authors of diversity who have not yet had a book published. 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's an interesting piece about falling in love on purpose.  

While there are no guarantees, given two potentially compatible people, it is possible to generate love by going through steps of increasing intimacy.  This is how the more effective arranged marriages work.  There is a culturally framed series of meetings and activities through which the couple-to-be grow more involved with each other.  As long as they're both decent human beings and want similar things from the relationship, love (or at least a strong friendship) tends to result.  Some people find this more appealing than love by random chance, which can stick you with someone who is neither decent nor compatible in ways that may be difficult to unstick.  

If you aren't looking for a sex/romance partner, bear in mind that the same techiques work for building friendships and other connections.  You might want a different set of questions, depending on what kind of partnership you want.

Intellectual Foreplay and Virtual Foreplay are good resources.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Better colors, lower energy, cheaper to run.  I really hope these work for my brain, as not every imaging tech does.  But I'm hopeful, because of the color aspect.  It sounds very promising.

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