Category Archives: Blogs' Archive

Day Two

After kind of a frantic morning (I couldn’t find my glasses  after we’d already packed up and were on the road, so we took a sight seeing tour of Zagreb to try and find a drugstore) and a long drive, we have arrived in  Mostar.  In contrast to last night’s experience, our room here has a door that is easy to lock, and a hostess who was here to meet us and give us some hints on what to see in town, and she lives downstairs.
I’m not going to dwell  on that.  I’m actually keeping a separate travel diary, which may be something to pass the time in the car, or I  may try and write it up later, I don’t know.
Anyway, by the time  we checked in and started out to get some dinner, it was starting to get dark, so we will do more sight seeing tomorrow.  That, plus there are some waterfalls near hear so we’ll get in some swimming and hiking.

There was a wide choice of eateries, and we settled for some cevabcice, pronounce che-vab-chee-tzee, which are small, beef, sausages.  They were delicious, the price was reasonable, the waiter was friendly, and it was in all respects a  different experience  from last night.
One thing I didn’t realize about Mostar before I arrived here is the significant Muslim presence.  There are several mosques and you can  hear them belting out the call  to  prayer at regular intervals.  On the other hand, it’s the kind of southern European town where hirsute and overweight gentlemen of middle age obviously feel very comfortable walking around shirtless, and there are plenty of young couples out wandering about together, dressed to party.
So, East meets West.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs' Archive

Day One

All’s well  that ends well.  After a bit of  a  detour from the Hungarian/Croatian border  which forced us to backtrack and go through Slovenia, and a total failure to contact our  Air B and B host, we are now ensconced snugly in our little Zagreb apartment for one night, and all is right with  the world.
At the border, the problem was that I’m traveling with an American passport and did not bring along my Czech permanent residency booklet (which looks a lot  like a passport) and because we were entering a non-Schengen country from a  Schengen country and they had no way of ascertaining how long I’d been in the  Schengen zone, we had to turn around.  The guards at the  Slovenian/Croatian border raised the same issue, and  we thought we were looking at a vacation in  Slovenia, which wouldn’t be horrible, but it  wasn’t our plan.  Eventually they relented and made us promise that on  the way back we’d at least have a photocopy of the permanent residency permit, which we can do.
Then, we got to  Zagreb and started looking for our Air B and B, and things got very  confusing.  It’s on a very  busy  street, with a tram line, so  we wound up parking several  blocks away  and walking back  to  it.  But, our host wasn’t answering our calls.  We eventually located the apartment but there was nobody there. The door, however, was open.  In fact, we couldn’t figure out anyway to lock  it.  First, since nobody was there to meet us and we couldn’t contact them, we felt sort of  as if we were squatting,  or  even trespassing.   Then, we didn’t feel secure  leaving anything there, and were planning to  leave a suitcase in front of the door when  we did sleep.  ‘A short walk from the center ‘ didn’t sound like such a great selling point any  more.
So, we went and got the car and parked it here, but didn’t  move anything in. We went out for dinner.  But every place we went turned  out  to be drinks only, except the  kebab stand and they wouldn’t take a credit card.  So, we went to the grocery  store, came back  here  and  made sandwiches.
We eventually  did find  a message  from our  host  online confirming that  we  were in the right flat and  telling us how to  lock  the door.  It was that kind of thing where it’s easy  once it’s explained but you  never would have  guessed  it.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs' Archive

The Other Side of AI

It has often been said, and is undoubtedly true, that once AIs cross that line, once they pass the Turing test, once their mind actually becomes better than our own, that their progress from that point forward will be extremely rapid, whereas we humans will remain stagnant, because you can’t just evolve a higher intelligence overnight, and we don’t seem to be headed in that direction anyway.
But, it gets worse.  Intelligence is not the only thing that made man the dominant species of the planet, capable of making tools, changing the environment, and developing a technological society.  It’s our opposable thumbs.  Of course, we share this with all the other apes and monkeys, but it’s that plus intelligence that has elevated humankind to the position it holds today.
Of course, the robots will surpass us there, too.   Opposable thumbs?  They can build them with ten independently operated arms, a couple of which will have hands, with fingers and thumbs, and at least one will have a wide array of scissors, knives, tweezers and screwdrivers, one or two might be extendable, to save people on the 4th floor from fires, and the rest will be various sex toys.
They can already run, jump, and get back up again after some stupid Boston Dynamics robot-overseer has just kicked them over – again.  Soon they will be able to dance, slalom, and of course do martial arts.  Remember, robo-cop was still a human being.  These will be merciless.
And the progress will continue.  They will have eyes that see in infrared and ultraviolet, as well as having eyes in the back of their head, and all around.  They will have ears that are better than dogs, and can overhear distant conversations and turn up the volume at will.
They will have motion sensors in their feet, to predict earthquakes, and hordes of stampeding buffalo, and they will have radar like bats.
They will walk the Earth unimpeded.  The age of man is ended.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs' Archive

Phone in Caucuses

The idea of allowing people to phone it in during the Iowa and Nevada primaries is like the worst idea ever, and they’re probably going to get away with it.
First, it’s changing the rules after the game has started, which is almost always dirty pool.  You just shouldn’t do that, it’s not sportsmanlike.
Second, it changes the character of the precinct caucuses, their basic value.  The whole idea is for one night out of their godforsaken lives, people should get up out of their chairs and go meet with people in a public place and hash it out.  Phoning it in diminishes the value of it.  It’s no longer a face to face, in person meeting.  It not only change the tenor of the meeting itself, it adds a whole new group into the mix.  People who don’t really care that much about politics, but are willing to make a phone call.  Like maybe because somebody promised them $10, or a couple bottles of wine.  Also, it puts a lot of vote tabulating power in the hands of the one who’s receiving the phone calls, like maybe the county chairman, who is more likely than the average voter to be an establishment Democrat.
On the one hand, it’s encouraging.  They are so scared of an unstoppable Bernie juggernaut that they are prepared to use blatant, strong are tactics as early as Iowa, as early as now, in fact.  They will implode.  They will crash and burn.  The people will not stand for it.

On the other hand, it’s very disconcerting.  Because they probably will get away with it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs' Archive

Facebook Complaint Department

Facebook has become very important in my life, and the lives of millions of other people.  To some extent, it’s where the great debates of our time are debated.  Which makes it like the people’s government of the information society of the future, still in it’s infant stage.  Which makes it a real problem, because it is a private corporation and not answerable to the people at all.
There is an ad which recurs on my page, despite the fact that I hit ‘hide ad’ every time it appears, and then ‘report ad’ and then I get a range of boxes to click and then I hit ‘done’ and a box pops up to say ‘you won’t see that ad again’ and then I see the ad again.
I’ve reported it twice already this morning, and I’ve been online less than a half hour.
The ad, some might say, is not that bad.  It doesn’t seem to be abusive to women or children or animals, and it doesn’t promote violence.  It’s political.  It shows a Swedish Flag and says something like “Glorious Historical Day as Sweden Ditches Euro.”  So, you might be confused and think this is just a news story from a partisan, anti-Euro source but, no, it’s a paid ad.
(My views on the Euro are mixed.  On the one hand, I wish the Czech Republic had it.  I love the IDEA of a united Europe, and I love the ease of travel, and the Euro would make it even easier.  On the other, I understand that prices go up anywhere it’s introduced.  But prices go up anyway.  That’s just the direction prices always go, so I don’t think it would be cataclysmic.  Also, if the UK had been on the Euro, Brexit would have been a lot more difficult.)
But this blog is not about my views on the Euro.  It’s about Facebook’s ad reporting policy.  I started blocking the ad whenever I saw it a week or two ago.  At first I just hit ‘hide ad’ and then ‘done.’  Then I started going to ‘report ad’ and clicking on the box that says ‘spam.’  But it still appears, so now I’m clicking on the box that says ‘False News’ because Sweden is not ‘ditching’ the Euro. Sweden, like the Czech Republic, was never on the Euro.
Still, it appears.  There is no reason at all to believe anybody looks at, or acts on, these reports.  What they need is a box where it says “Why do you object to this ad?” and then a space to write in an explanation.
That then needs to be read by an actual human being (Mark Zuckerberg’s got the money.  He could hire a few actual human beings for this purpose), and responded to.

It would not be a difficult system to implement, at all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs' Archive

Whatever

It is becoming more and more evident that the DNC is more intent on fighting off progressives than in winning elections against Republicans.  One of the chief reasons for that is Nancy Pelosi.  She is old and tired, out of her depth and flailing.  She is lost in a world she does not understand.
In a revenge tweet after they’d refused more funding for border prisons, she referred to Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and other House progressives as she wrote “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world, but they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”
Ocasion Cortez tweeted back:  “That public “whatever” is called public sentiment.  And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country.”  So, in two  short sentences, the House rookie confronted a congressman’s daughter who was born before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and has been in politics since forever, and explained to her what politics is supposed to be about.  Quite correctly.
From this, we learn two important political lessons.  First, avoid using the word “whatever.”  It reminded me of Donald Trump’s tweet about “blood coming out of her whatever.”  It’s a vague word, and it allows your opponent to define it, at which point you almost automatically lost the argument.
Second, never get into a twitter fight with Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs' Archive

This Beautiful World

One aspect of Facebook (and probably other social media platforms, too, I don’t know, I spend most of my time on Facebook) is that everybody seems to have much more beautiful and interesting lives than I do.  Somebody (on Facebook) once explained it to me, though.  “When you compare others lives to your own on Facebook, you are comparing their greatest hits album with your blooper reel.”
And that’s all true, but the fact is I don’t mind all that much.  A lot of people post pictures of their beautiful homes, and the view from their front porch, and I think that’s lovely.  Many people live in beautiful places, and it’s good to be proud of where you live.  Even more people post pictures of their beautiful vacations, and that’s great.  Sometimes it’s just them having drinks at a cafe, and that’s O.K. if you know them, but sometimes it’s pictures of beautiful beaches, or breathtaking mountains, or majestic mosques, monuments or cathedrals.  You see quaint village street scenes, old fashioned buildings, and marvels of modern architecture.
You could almost start to think the whole world looks like that and the amazing thing is, the whole world could look like that.  We’ve obviously already made a start, as there as exotic and lovely locations all around the world.
All we need to do is dramatically fix up the parts in between them and we’ll have that  utopian paradise that right wingers (who are living in hell) like to laugh about.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs' Archive