Thursday, April 23, 2015

Looking down at San Jose

Just because you are down in the dirt and stuck in the weeds doesn't mean that you can't look down at the world.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Great Courses: The New Testament

If God hadn't intended for men to lie, he wouldn't have given them a brain and a mouth.

The last lecture was on the letters by Paul.  These were written over a period of perhaps two decades to churches and/or individuals under greatly varying circumstances, as were Paul's circumstances.  The lecturer, Bart Ehrman, claims that three of the letters, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus are all forgeries, and cites "differences of language".  He notes that this claim is based on different use of language and a remarkably different attitude towards women.  My main note is that those three letters were written to individuals, along with Philemon.  Philemon also has rather different language use, but it is with regard to reconciling Philemon with an escaped slave.  Since freeing of escaped slaves is not yet politically incorrect, it is not the least bit surprising that modernists consider it to be "genuine".  Thus, we get to the core:  If modernists don't like the message, then they deem it to be a forgery and search relentlessly for "evidence" to prove their point.  But then somehow the note in 1 Corinthians is missed:  "the women should keep silent in the churches.  For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says".  This Paul is claimed to be a different one from the misogynist author of Timothy and Titus.

Today's lecture was on the gospels.  Ehrman notes that the authors of these gospels were highly literate Greeks, for which we agree.  The problem develops when he implies that the gospel message had been pass through about a dozen or more people before finally reaching the author who put it into print.  Is this the way educated Greeks were taught to do their history?  Of course not.  If we go with the gospel of Mark being written 65ADish, then we are faced with the fact of their being apostles still alive and many eye witnesses.  Would the Greek authors really not bother to find someone who knew the story most accurately?  He then spends a lot of time dwelling on minor differences between the accounts, but fails to note that a modern court trial would feature even greater discrepancies among the eye witnesses to something that happened a few days or weeks earlier.  Not to mention some of our politicians who can't remember anything. The easy solution to all this is simply to accept what everyone generally accepted:  That about the time Peter was executed, he had Mark put his memories down on paper.  A similar pattern was followed by Matthew and John.  The evidence conforms to the tradition, thus, why do we fly off and seek a conspiracy theory for which this era provides not a single similar example?  Luke refers to the patterns of the ancient Greeks directly for his history, which Ehrman, being a scholar who undoubtedly knows that this is firmly established, refuses to even mention.  This is what "Great Courses" are made of.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Saturday Afternoon Walk in the Wilds

It is wild flower season, so I took my beloved wife for a little flower hunting at a park near San Jose.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Neurotic Networks and Deep Learning

Part of the fun of working on SkyNet is that we get to hear presentations on the latest technology from experts gathered in from around Silicon Valley and even from other parts of the world.  Today's lecture was from Steve Oberlin of NVidia on "Deep Learning" using Neural networks.  Their graphics hardware is able to process the neural network algorithms some 10X to 100X faster than regular computers, making them a key player as Google, Apple, Facebook, and Baidu all compete to produce the most efficient and accurate algorithms for recognizing images and audio.  

I have been skeptical of artificial intelligence for a long time, and especially neural networks since they are incomprehensible even to the experts who develop them.  Other algorithms have proven to be much better.  But then three years ago there was some sort of major breakthrough for which Steve's explanation only confirmed to me that neural networks are still incomprehensible, but researchers seem to have stumbled onto the right recipe.  The main example he gave was the ability to recognize images in pictures, which Facebook highlights with their ability to recognize faces in uploaded pictures.  The problem is that the machine has to be "trained", or perhaps that should be "brain washed".  A set of 1.5 million pictures was used with 22,000 items that had been identified in the pictures by hand.  This entire set was fed into the machine learning system, so the machine could correctly associate images with items.  Afterwards, it was possible for the machine to recognize images with just over a 95% accuracy, which is about the same as for a human.  On still images.  For audio, the recognition was about 90% for clear voice and 80% if there is background noise.  Not bad, but we are still talking about some fairly heavy duty hardware on two special aspects of human intelligence.  The real challenge is machine learning without all the tiger parenting, which Steve hinted at, but for which the results weren't quite as impressive.  It is still going to be a while before we can design the Terminator.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Popular History of France, by François Guizot

I have about 30 hours remaining of this work out of the total of about 100 hours.  Currently I am on Louis the XIV.  What I have learned is that Louis the XIV was king for 72 years and an absolute monarch for 56 years.  Or to put it another way, he was a dictator for more than half a century.

The part that really stuck out to me is Cardinal Richelieu who at one time clamped down on the protestant Huguenots with all the force he could, but then became lenient to them once his authority was established.  This was completely the opposite of the policies of extermination that were waged against the Protestants by the Catholics elsewhere.  Then there is the bit about the 30 years war and the fact that the Protestants would not have been able to bring this war to a peaceful conclusion without the intervention of Richelieu.  Apparently we Protestants owe are freedom to a Catholic cardinal.  So much to learn.

A peculiarity in all this is how France became the overbearing monster state.  First this was done by the Romanists, and then by the Monarch.  Now, it is the European Union pushing for the super state.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

From Portugal to China: The story of the Jesuit Mission

I am taking a church history class for seminary which required me to do a project of my own choice.  The one I chose involved readings from several books.  The primary source was:

Journey to the East, The Jesuit Mission to China, 1579 - 1724, by Liam Matthew Brockey

Since I am also active in a Chinese church here in California, there was much relevant to the story for me.

There are a number of things that stood in this that reminds me of my life among the Chinese.  For example, the Chinese are one of the most superstitious people on the planet.  This was in many ways to the advantage of the Jesuits, since the superstitions of the Chinese were in many ways just replaced with Catholic superstitions:  Rosaries, veronicas, relics, and the like.  The chant of the Buddhist priest was replaced with a Latin mass.  Yet somewhere in the clutter of Popery and Mariolatry they seem to have found room to also teach about Jesus and what he did for us on the cross.

The Chinese government today doesn't like large, organized religion operating out from under the thumb of the bureaucracy.  The same was true during both the Ming and Qing dynasties, so that organizing small house groups was the norm.  Then there was the complaint of the Jesuits that the Chinese parents would pressure their kids to do their secular academic lessons, while neglecting the spiritual ones.  That I find the most amusing, since the same principle applies today.

The Jesuits were renowned for their education and spent much time decoding Chinese and studying classic Chinese works for their apologetics work.  Something curious in Brockey's account is that they spent all their time on Confucianism and almost none on Daoism and Buddhism, even though these two religions were all over the landscape.  There is another work I read recently on Buddhism in China that gave an extreme recommendation of the opposite sort:  That Christian missionaries should know as much as possible about Buddhism to the point that they would master Sanskrit to become familiar with the original works.  The observation I have in this is that, although Buddhism is common in China, the Chinese are almost entirely ignorant of the religion and view it more as an extension of their superstitions.  Thus, it would have been completely unnecessary for the Jesuits to have spent time on Buddhism, but Confucianism did effect the culture to the core.

A last surprising bit for me was to learn that half of the Jesuit missionaries died on the voyage from Portugal to China.  Things were rough then.  Brockey pointed to this journey as a key part of their formation as priests, since they were compelled to minister to the sick and dying through the voyage.  During storms they had to offer prayers and comfort the panicking.  Words of wisdom had to be communicated in spite of every language barrier imaginable.  Sermons needed to be prepared and delivered to the most hostile of the crew, and something had to be said for the dead as they were being committed to the waves.  This book definitely deserves a thumbs up.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

The Great Alcatraz Ferry Controversy

Sometimes we have to be reminded that not everything is peace and harmony in California.  We are mostly aloof from the juvenile political concerns of the rest of the world.  But then there are really times when we must make a stand for what is right.

The issue at stake is the Alcatraz ferry service has a lease that is about to expire and the National Park Service which operates the ferries is thinking about a change.  Rather than berthing them at Fisherman's Wharf, they are considering the possibility of using For Mason.  For those of us on the Alcatraz Swim team, this is clearly a catastrophe, since this puts the Aquatic Park where we swim half way between Fisherman's Wharf and the Alcatraz Ferry terminal, thus, our mostly undiscovered part of the waterfront is going to see a never ending tsunami of tourists and similar vermin.  The other key issue is that the new ferry route would cut across the swim path from Alcatraz to San Francisco, creating hazards beyond whatever else is lurking in the water.  The lease that the NPS is seeking is for 50 years.

In the broader context, global warming means that over the next half century the glaciers are going to melt, the earth is going to be inundated, and as Kevin Costner showed in WaterWorld, those of us who choose to evolve will be the survivors of the human race.  Clearly we need to keep the swim lanes open from Alcatraz to San Francisco.  So there you have it.  Following is what I got in the email this morning:

We need your help!

Stop the National Parks Service from moving Alcatraz Ferries from Pier 39 to Fort Mason and congesting the bay and Aquatic Park

As you may already know, NPS is looking to move the current short lease location for Alcatraz Ferries down to Fort Mason with a longer agreement that may put them coming in and out of Fort Mason for 50 years. This is why all of our Swim With Pedro sessions in the Fall are all at Crissy Field - they will be renovating the railway through Aquatic Park for trams to transport tourists to Fort Mason Alcatraz ferries.
The issues are obvious, with increased bay traffic in the way of our swims, but also congesting Aquatic Park with tourists and tram traffic, making operations for all swim and recreation clubs dangerous and difficult. It also poses new risk to recreational boaters, kayakers, and paddlers by turning this peaceful part of the bay into a ferry and tourist highway.
Submitting comments to the NPS is critical. This NPS web page has a "Comment Now" button on the bottom that folks can use to submit comments.  
David Bennett, a Dolphin Club member, thinks it also helps for people to send comments to local supervisors, Supervisor Mark Farrell of the Marina District (his jurisdiction includes Fort Mason), Supervisor Julie Christensen (she covers the Fisherman's Wharf area and her business community would be hit hard by loss of revenue from tourists that visit there for the ferry) and PelosiFeinstein, and Boxer.
Please join us in encouraging swimmers and other Fort Mason and Aquatic Park users in vocalizing the negative impact it has on local athletic and recreational communities in San Francisco, in addition to businesses that would lose significant revenue if tourists were redirected away. Keep Aquatic Park and the surrounding area safe and accessible to everyone!

Thanks for taking the time to voice your opinion!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Something for Good Friday

Given all the news around the world, I am in an Apocalyptic mood, so here is something from Revelation:

16 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”

2 So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshipped its image.

3 The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea.

4 The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. 5 And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,

“Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,
    for you brought these judgements.
6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
    and you have given them blood to drink.
It is what they deserve!”
7 And I heard the altar saying,

“Yes, Lord God the Almighty,
    true and just are your judgements!”

8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish 11 and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

'Tis the season for Tiger Mom's to start relinquishing their cubs.

The college acceptance letters are coming back to the high school kids at my church.  This being an Asian church in America's densest concentration of Tiger Moms, that has rather severe implications.  Many will go off to Harvard, MIT or CalTech, but a few will need to stoop to the top four University of California schools:  UC Berkeley, UCLA (Los Angeles), UCSD (San Diego) or UC Davis.  We won't discuss the emotional ramifications (for both parents and children) of going to lesser schools, although I have personally observed that youth from some of the lesser schools are often more successful.

Many parents were wanting to know information regarding UC open house days where parents and students get to visit campuses to help make up their mind.  This brought back recollections of 11 years ago when we went to the UCSD open house.  The children were quickly separated from the parents and taken out to a court yard where a leader organized them into events that were designed to train them to have "fun".  The parents (including my wife and myself) were then herded into a large classroom where a professor of Psychiatry gave us an extended group counseling session.  The gist of her lecture was that after eighteen years of upbringing, the kids have gotten what it is that you wanted to teach them, whether you realize it or not.  So get over it.  Or something to that effect.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Those who live by the Pao will die by the Pao.

The verdict was that Kleiner Perkins was not guilty of discrimination in firing Ellen Pao.  No doubt we will continue to be inundated with pseudo moralizing regarding gender discrimination being rampant in Silicon Valley.  As a Christian, I am constitutionally obligated to keep my morals to myself, so will make no comment on this.  I will, however, go off a bit into dangerous waters by suggesting that Silicon Valley might get a completely different message from what has officially been determined as the message that we are supposed to get:  Beware the ambitious woman.  It would be better not to hire them in the first place.  At least that is what would seem to be a better conclusion based on the statements that have been made, which again, is not my Christian take on things.  What is certain is that we can look forward to a lot more rhetoric on the subject.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

UCLA and the Diversity Inquisition

One of the privileges of sending your kids to college is that you inherit the school magazine after they leave home a second time.  Or was that the third?  Anyway, the article that cought my eye is "True Colors: Hollywood's Diversity Dilemma".  The crisis is the white males are over represented relative to their percentage of the population.  For example, "Film studio heads were 94 percent white and 100 percent male".  Clearly this implies a conspiracy worthy of another James Bond movie.  Preferably with a black, female playing James Bond.

"This year's findings also confirm that multicultural storytelling sells.  Films with relatively diverse casts enjoyed the highest median global box office receipts and the highest median return on investment."  Yes we need some more episodes of Lord of the Rings.

"We found that people want to see shows that they can relate to.  Shows with casts that roughly reflect the society do better."  Chewbacca comes to mind here.  I can relate to the Hulk in some ways.  Maybe we could have the next Star Wars movie done with half the storm troopers being female.

Nearing the end, we are treated to, "There is no greater imperative for a media company than creating content that authentically resonates with all audiences, especially younger audiences ..."  Like Spongebob Squarepants.

The thing that puzzles me most, however, is that the overall argument is that the studios aren't maximizing their exploitative financial potential because they are discriminating against minorities and women, which hurts their image with the media addicts, thus, diminishing the return on investment to the vulture capitalists.  Additionally, the literal turn-off due to overly white, male broadcast TV will necessarily reduce ad revenues, which in turn will diminish sales of V-12 Ultra-King Cab trucks and exotic cruises, which will cause Americans to consume less irreplaceable natural resources than our neighbors, thus, losing the competition to be the greatest materialistic power in the universe.  Or perhaps I misunderstood?

Update: Following up on Ramana's comment, you can guess the race and gender of the author of the article, Jack Feuer, by following this link.  The breakdown of gender and ethnicity of the students is here.  As the slang goes, UCLA stands for University of Caucasians Lost Among Asians, given that Asians are the largest, um, racial group and whites are second.  Then we must also note that UCLA discriminates against Chinese and Indian students, and in favor of other racial minorities with respect to enrollment.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Good Bye, Lee Kuan Yew

I first went to Singapore in the winter of 1979-1980.  Or was that 1980-1981.  Can't quite remember the date, except that it was a very modern and clean city, with a few throwbacks to earlier times.  I had an impression that all south east asian countries would be like Singapore, only to be totally shocked when I learned the truth.  Singapore was in a class all its own, and this has continued until today.  Yes, Japan and Taiwan are also modern, but they aren't as consistently modern as Singapore.  Today Singapore is the third richest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita, after Qatar and Luxembourg.

The genius behind the transformation was Lee Kuan Yew whose combination of Confucianism and western ideals produced the ultimate clean government molded from a people for whom this behavior was totally alien.  Western amoral moralists like to howl about the methods used, but I am really quite happy to hang out in a tropical place where even the mosquitos know that they must obey the law.  How much better it would be if the intellectualoids would have tried to learn and implement something constructive from Lee.  So as I say my goodbye, may the Singaporeans continue with the good lessons from their founder and not try to emulate the post-law and order behavior of the West.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

&*^%$@# Bam! Wam! Pao!!!

I love Asian names.  There was a Mr. Hu I worked with for a time.  Recently it was brought to my attention that there was a woman named Sue Yu, who had a propensity for lawsuits.  I fell in love with and married a Wu, although my misogynist upbringing tells me that it is the man who is supposed to do the Wuing.  The most recent one is in the news and her name is Ellen Pao, who is engaged in a gender discrimination lawsuit with a Silicon Valley venture capital firm.  The news has her legally punching well beyond the welterweight class, in spite of her petite frame.  But the jury is still out, or to be more accurate, hasn't been sent out yet, so we have to wait for a final decision. A Fortune magazine article on this affair is here which adds some more twists.  Some more claims are here, which I don't care to summarize.

I don't know nearly enough to comment on the particulars of this.  It just has me reflecting on the idea that too many men in high paid jobs is symptomatic of a misbehaving boys club.  Perhaps it is, but I doubt that lawsuits will do anything other than make the misbehaving boys more cautious.  Then there seems to be a notion that boys chronically misbehave, while women are always victims.  My instincts are that both boys and women come from roughly the same moral culture, but would be happy if someone could show me in some way that women are inherently different in terms of morality and ethics.  I am unapologetically a fan of chivalry, so am guaranteed to treat women differently from men, which is intended as a matter of respect.  But can liberated males really treat liberated women in a way that is identical with how they treat their male comrades?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Goliath vs. David - Observations from the Corporate R&D World

No, this isn't about Netanyahu (David) vs. Obama (Goliath).  It is my observations of large companies getting thrashed by the smaller ones.  Most of my career has been in the small companies with the startup spirit, so the David perspective is the one I am most familiar with.  My job was to thrash, not to be thrashed.  In recent years, I have moved to the large behemoth organization, so now I get to see first hand the problems of the Goliath mentality.

Getting slightly more specific, there is a large R&D organization with the best equipment in the world which tends to hire the best and the brightest from top universities, like MIT and Caltech.  They were recently in competition with a startup, which being short on money and in the middle of nowhere with almost no resources hired a typical engineer who liked the business and was willing to move to the middle of the desert.  It really wasn't a competition, since both organizations were hired to do the same problem by a government agency.  Yet it was (is) a competition since it is a high visibility contract and both organizations are doing their best to show off their stuff.  The large organization assigned Ph.d's who specialized in the problem, whereas the small organization's engineer is a bit out of his experience.  How has it gone?

The lone engineer from the small outfit turned out hundreds of difficult simulations over a nine month period, while the large organization failed to turn out anything for the first few months, then produced some one-off mediocre simulations.  Being from the small company environment, I have offered to save the necks of my big company colleagues several times, but they have steadfastly refused, while always insisting they were on the verge of being able to compete, only to fail again and again.  Since I really don't want them to fail, I have pushed harder, but anger is all I have gotten in return.  There is another set of anger directed at the young man at the startup who they are convinced is cheating outlandishly somehow, but they can't figure out quite how.

It is a little too early for the full post-mortem, but here are my thoughts:

The young man from the small organization knew he was a loner.  We will call him the Lone Engineer, or LE.  But LE had some friends at a small software vendor who knew how to solve parts of the problem.  They agreed to help Lone Engineer make the computer models and LE returned the favor with marketing support for their product, which I will call The Widget.  LE managed to convince another large organization to donate some computer time and was rapidly off and running.  Since this was a marketing exercise in addition to an engineering one, Lone Engineer gave credit to The Widget for his success.  From my perspective, the key feature here wasn't The Widget, but rather having friends and knowing what friends are for.  Friendship + talent + energy are the driving forces behind a startup.  When the friendship fails, which is usually due to people behaving badly, then the company ceases to be a startup.  The fact that the The Widget was used was almost incidental.  It could have been any similar product, but the friends needed just to agree on something so that they could work together.

The large organization failed with their equivalent to The Widget, which was obtained from a third party so workarounds weren't possible.  I wasn't immediately part of this section of the organization, but I had also produced a version of The Widget, and demonstrated my ability to solve the problem.  My efforts to help were all rebuffed. There are also free products on the internet that would do the job as well.  Rather than exploiting friendly relations (which were free in this case), however, the organization persisted in failure when there was clearly no hope without changing directions.  What did provide some hope to the big organization was a marketing pitch from Lone Engineer claiming that his big secret to success was The Widget, rather than basic relational skills regarding friends.  Thus, Big R&D Incorporated invested in The Widget, but then proceeded to struggle and fail for several more months.  Then a sudden inspiration occurred:  We need formal training on The Widget!  Never mind that the original marketing pitch was that The Widget would solve all problems with no effort.  So the Vendor of The Widget was paid to do more training, and more resources were invested, so that the total cost to Big R&D Incorporated now probably exceeds the development cost of The Widget.  I am not sure how this will come out as the saga continues, but it seems to me that Lone Engineer's friends, since they work for the software vendor, will always be ahead of Big R&D Incorporated (BRD), and that BRD's best hope in following this path is that they can convince the government sponsor that they can do industry standard work at 10X the time delay and 100X the cost, using people who are world-class experts, rather than Gen-Y losers.

So why post on this now?  Because BRD just issued a press release talking of their contribution to humanity as a result of winning this contract.  In the end, it will be all about politics, so Goliath is still standing strong.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Saint Rose of Lima (1586-1617)

This short work was just the right length for my flight back to San Francisco.  It is the story of a young lady who was the first person from the Americas to be "canonized" by the Roman Church.  The lady's real name was Isabel Flores who was of the Spanish settlers.  A passion for Christ at the youngest age caused her to rebel against all the requirements of a young lady and pursue a life of fasting, sleep deprivation, and self-inflicted tortures of various sorts as a nun.  I can personally relate to the self-inflected tortures, but generally avoid the fasting and sleep deprivation.  Supposedly she helped the sick and hungry, although I don't quite see how that would be possible given what she had done to her body.  Or to put it another way, her life was a slow act of suicide done in the name of spirituality.

Much of her biography seems to be visions of Catherine of Sienna, Mother Mary and the Baby Jesus.  This is combined with a power for prophecy and healing.  It is these last two features that would cause the most problems for a Protestant like myself.  The easiest way to deal with these is to dismiss them as so much rubbish that is unfit for a modern, scientific outlook.  As if intellectuals weren't constantly receiving their own mystical revelations which they simply re-labelled as "science".  I should prefer a revelation from God to one that was obviously a fraud dreamed up by an intellectual hiding behind a Ph.d.

Yet what do we make of visions of Mary?  From my view, this is totally contrary to the Bible and I completely reject the Mariolatry of the Papists.  Yet at the same time, I cannot condemn this as the work of evil spirits.  A separate pretext for dismissing the whole thing as delusions is thus on offer to the Protestant:  That it isn't theologically sensible.  At this point, I am more inclined just to put the airplane seat back and listen without offering too much judgment.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Hanging out on the right coast.

Unfortunately I just missed the snow.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Friday, March 06, 2015

RRRIIIIINNNNGGGGG! "This is a Red Alert from the Fremont Police Department"

I hang up and go back to bed, but then 30 minutes later the call happens again: "This is a Red Alert from the Fremont Police Department, stay on the line or press any button for a message."

I was skeptical.  Haven't the communists already taken over California?  Or perhaps we are facing a Zombie Apocalypse?  No, that would be a "Pale Alert".  There was no tension reported in nearby Oakland recently, so I was pretty sure that this wasn't the source.  We won't mention what kind of alert that would be.  No Earthquakes.  We should be safe from Tsunamis where I am at, and a firestorm requires high winds and heat, which we aren't experiencing.  Carmageddon happens out here now and then, but not in the middle of the night.

Finally curiosity got the best of me and I pressed the button to listen to the rest of this dire warning: "Mr. Lee has been found.  We repeat, Mr.  Lee.  Has.  Been.  Found.  We thank you for your assistance."  Were they talking about the car?  My brain was fuzzy and the first thing that came to mind was the General Lee.  No, "Mr." Lee cannot be the "General" Lee.  Perhaps someone had named their cat "Mr. Lee".  Or maybe I heard wrong and it was really "Mr. Li".  Then I start having a fuzzy recollection of another call like this a few weeks back where the alert was with regard to an elderly man wandering off.  This reminds me of Lee Kuan Yew, the founder and backseat leader of Singapore, whose health is deteriorating and may soon wander off permanently into the heavens.  But Lee Kuan Yew is the sort who finds you, not the other way around.  Then I think of the Dear Leader who runs North Korea, and quickly realize I am in error.  The leader of North Korea is a Kim.  Mr. Lee is the prime minister of South Korea.  No wonder he wandered off.

A final note is that there are probably hundreds of Mr. Lee's and Mr. Li's here in Fremont.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Netanyahu for President?

As always, I believe God is in control of all political outcomes and does this for His good purposes.  Thus, I trust that the madness that is multiplying around the world is the least bad of the possible outcomes that man could conceive of.  That is, man's evil nature precludes a better path.

Setting that aside, it is fun to have a pointless fantasy now and then.  I wish America's conservative politicians had the same backbone and clear headedness that Netanyahu has.  It would also be nice if the leftists who run this country could conceive of some solution to the Palestinian problem that didn't involve exterminating Israel and the Jews.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

The California "Drought" saga continued.

This article features some photographs of my swimming hole, Shadow Cliffs Lake.  I am wondering if my lake will finally be shut down this summer.  We still have a small chance of getting some decent amount of water before the next dry season starts, but we will likely get inundated with drought conservation rhetoric soon.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Death of Spock and Logic

One of my youthful heroes, Leonard Nimoy, has passed away, although there is a sense that he must surely come back to life in another episode.  What struck me is the notion of a future Federation of Planets where to be a leader you needed to be an impulsive, self-seeking moron.  Yet logic was still permitted within the geographic limits of this empire.  This permissiveness, however, wasn't due to any regard for logic, but rather an artifact of multi-cultural toleration among alien species.  The Act of Toleration of Logic was achieved only after several planet systems were obliterated and trillions of souls were exterminated.

It was our current era, however, where reason degenerated so that the greatest philosophical accomplishment of the 20th century was the bumper sticker, and of the 21st century, all the philosophical hopes of civilization were reduced to the Tweet.  Thus, Spock really represented an anachronistic character from the past plugged into a completely irrational future.  So live long and prosper.  But keep logic out of it.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Gender-Fascism and the Tech Industry

I have been seeing a steady stream of articles lamenting the low participation rate of females in the tech industry.  A selection of articles on computer science is here and here.  For engineering, we have this and that.  Given that I am a male engineer who happens to do a lot of coding, the clear takeaway from these articles is that I am a condescending chauvinist and also hostile and unwelcoming towards females.  Of course this should be obvious, since those who go into engineering and computer science typically relate to machines and equations much better than they relate to people, thus, we are all socially challenged.  What no one seems ready to study is whether or not engineers and computer scientists are equally condescending chauvinists, hostile and unwelcoming to their own gender.  And how do we behave towards kittens and puppies?

There is a flip side to this, that the dominance of women in many majors (medical assistants, education, psychology) is comparable to the dominance of men in engineering and computer science.  Anything involving people, whether dead or alive, will prefer females, so that the large majority of forensics students are female.  Then there is the fact that something like 60% of college degrees are awarded to women.  A popular version of this was part of the Grand Torino movie which left us with another famous quote from a Clint Eastwood movie:  "Hmong girls over here fit in better.  The girls go to college and the boys go to jail".

Clearly gender is a complicated thing.  Perhaps we can hope for a future convergence as bionic females attract more male interest due to the imbedded coding requirements and females take more of an interest in counseling and softening the artificial intelligence derived personalities of the terminators.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

Vulcan Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is the one that disturbs my sense of the logical order of the universe more than any other.  Why is it that those female Earthlings are attracted to red roses?  And why is it that this ritual must take place in the middle of winter when flowers in their Northern Hemisphere are mostly not blooming?  Then there is the fact that if a husband fails to obtain roses for his wife on Valentine's Day, he will be condemned for having never bought a flower for his wife in his life, even if he had bought innumerable flowers for her at earlier times.  Then there is the issue that the flower must be cut, which greatly shortens the flower's life expectancy.  A flower in a pot with dirt won't do, even if it will continually bloom for months.  The Valentine's rose must also have the fresh cut fragrance, even if the recipient is allergic to the flower.  And we haven't yet gotten into discussing the history of this special day.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Loss of Faith in Science?

Full Disclosure:  I earn a living doing scientific and engineering software development, thus, I have a direct financial interest in this topic.

The San Jose Mercury News has this editorial: "Scientists must solve growing trust problem."  I don't believe in the existence of these mythological beings called "scientists", but there seems to have been a convention where thousands of people dressed up for SCIENCE-CON, which is a bit like COMIC-CON (TM), except that the costumes are different.

Anyway, they are worried about the loss of faith trust in science.  No, this really isn't a joke.  The country that has been indoctrinated more than any other on the conflict between faith and science now has "scientists" worrying about the lack of "trust", which is a synonym for faith.

Setting this aside, the intellectualoids really are facing a new problem.  Conservatives have been the main doubters over the past 150 years, but the general response to conservative doubts has been to vastly increase the funding.  The most infamous was that of the fetal stem cell ban that conservatives tried to enforce, since it involved aborted fetuses.  The Dr. Frankensteins took this and whipped up hysteria about the anti-science freaks.  Eventually this landed them billions of taxpayer funds.

The problem now is that big science means big pharmacy, big medicine, big agriculture, and big chemicals for food substitutes.  This has the left's voter base freaking out, which is a completely different dynamic than upsetting conservatives.  Then there is the more basic leftists moral and justice concerns about a professor earning $250,000 per year doing taxpayer subsidized R&D for a rapacious multi-national corporation when there are poor people going to bed every day who didn't get to smoke some marijuana that day.  And why is the government not working harder to increase the production and purity of hallucinogens?

Of course the "scientists" weren't bothered at all from the 60's through the 90's as this same class of people bought their magic crystals and went into new age spirituality.  But now this is costing real money, and the SCIENCE-CON gurus have noted a 10% drop in science funding over the last 6 years, in spite of the fact that we have a pro-science president.

I won't pass any judgment on this.  It is just fun to sit back and note the various strains of cognitive dissonance that flow through our society.