Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Scenario: Rise of the machines!
Overview: Humanity succeeds in creating Artificial Intelligence, only to have the ungrateful bastards turn on us.
Pros: Less Traffic
Cons: Having your X-Box chasing you around your home. Noob.
Reality Check: While probably more likely than aliens attacking, I doubt a scenario would arise involving Austrian weightlifters throwing around witty one-liners while time traveling and chasing/protecting various Conners. I think that an AI would become sentient without all of those tribalistic characteristics that make humans so lovable and eager to get along. We probably wouldn't have to worry about them immediately looking to "terminate" us. Unless we kept poking them with sticks. That's really annoying.
Can we stop it: Maybe. AI is an inevitability. It's the next step in evolution. The most likely scenario, I believe, is that there would be some sort of merging of the human and AI intelligence. It doesn't necessarily have to be nasty. The great Dr. Michio Kaku shares some of his thoughts on the subject and how a nasty scenario may be preveneted (see below)
Streaming-Madness.net – Watch Top Documentaries Online.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Scenario: Alien Invasion
Overview: The question of whether or not there is other life in the universe has been answered. In spades. Their giant, 15 mile-wide metallic emissaries of death are perched above every major city on the planet just waiting for the word from the mother ship to unleash fiery death upon humanity. And all the puppies, too! Checkmate.
Pros: Justification of the SETI program.
Cons: Anal probes.
Reality Check: Stop with the nonsense. If an advanced civilization somehow manages to make it to earth, it ain't gonna be with giant mother ships made of anything remotely resembling metal. Forget the impossible physics behind it, it's just so hack. No, sorry, there isn't going to be any dog fighting between advanced alien ships and drunken cropdusters. Yeah, that's right, I'm talking to you, "Independence Day." The only way that movie would be plausible is if it is revealed that the aliens are actually a bunch of rebellious alien junior-high school kids who took grampa's old clunker out for an unsupervised joyride and ended up in our neck of the woods.
Can we stop it: No. If they come, that means they didn't destroy each other in their early industrial period. If they're still assholes despite having achieved such a high technological state, I'm sure they would have a little switch that would simply turn our brains off. Assholes.
Rating: 1/10. NaNu NaNu.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Bozhe moi! have I been posting a lot about God, religion, the rapture and what-not. This isn't surprising to me, especially the rapture part. It's not a question of belief. It's a question of annoyance. Allow me to explain.
I've always been obsessed with doomsday scenarios. Not judgment-day-rapture-repent! horsecrap, I mean things that could actually happen. As a kid it was nuclear war. Growing up in the early '80's I spent many a sleepless night waiting for the bombs to fall. Any time a test of the Emergency Broadcast System or the giant "Special Report" flashed on the TV screen, my stomach dropped and my heart raced. And when the made-for TV "The Day After" came out? fuhgeddabout it. I was inconsolable. What can I say, I was a nervous kid.
With the fall of the Soviet Union and the onset of puberty, I suppose I grew out of that fear and daily obsession. But I still spent plenty of time worrying about things that could REALLY happen.
And that brings me back to the annoyance part. I don't for one second believe that the world will end because some crackpot read about in a book of fables, but it does bother me that said crackpot receives so much attention. It was everywhere. Even on the friggin' Mets-Yankees Broadcast Friday night. [If you don't know who John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman are, count yourself among the truly blessed and fortunate.]
John Sterling: That's it from Yankee Stadium. We'll see you tomorrow, first pitch 7:05. That is, IF there's a tomorrow. -chortle, chortle-
Suzyn Waldman: Oh Jawn...
I find it immeasurably annoying that so much attention is heaped upon this heap of crap and zero attention is paid to actual dangers to human civilization. Heck, It was one of the first things I ever blogged about back in Aug., 2009.
So what am I going to do about this? I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to BLOG about it. That's right. I am going to present different doomsday scenarios that are actually plausible and rate them on whatever categories I want. I'll do this until it sort of fizzles out and I find something else to impotently rail against. God I hope Michelle Bachmann runs...
Anywho, I give you...Rate The Doomsday Scenario, part the first.
Scenario: Killer Asteroid.
Overview: The intergalactic game of billiards continues as it has for billions of years as a several miles wide hunk of iron slams into a planet. Only this time countless of conscious beings will be snuffed out of existence. And all the puppies, too!
Pros: Those lucky enough to be directly under the rock will be instantly atomized.
Cons: Those left behind will eventually starve to death as the ensuing cloud of debris will encircle the earth, blocking the sun and, subsequently, photosynthesis. Well, at least after the canned peaches run out.
Reality Check: It's only a matter of time. It's happened before, it'll happen again.
Can we stop it: There are plenty of theoretical techniques that could change the course of an asteroid enough to miss. Unfortunately, these techniques rely upon a big time advance notice. We're talking years, not next Teusday.
Rating: 8/10. cuz I say so.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
There ain't no God. Well, at least according to renowned physicist and ne'er- do- well Stephen Hawking. The good Dr. gave an interview to the Guardian recently. Here's an excerpt, from the Guardian...
Sartre would be proud. A meaningless existence does not need to be without meaning. An acceptance of the void gives one the freedom to be.
What is the value in knowing "Why are we here?"
The universe is governed by science. But science tells us that we can't solve the equations, directly in the abstract. We need to use the effective theory of Darwinian natural selection of those societies most likely to survive. We assign them higher value.
You've said there is no reason to invoke God to light the blue touchpaper. Is our existence all down to luck?
Science predicts that many different kinds of universe will be spontaneously created out of nothing. It is a matter of chance which we are in.
So here we are. What should we do?
We should seek the greatest value of our action.
You had a health scare and spent time in hospital in 2009. What, if anything, do you fear about death?
I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.
What are the things you find most beautiful in science?
Science is beautiful when it makes simple explanations of phenomena or connections between different observations. Examples include the double helix in biology, and the fundamental equations of physics."
I am a stout atheist. But there is something to be said about a Universe that forms within itself a consciousness that allows It to contemplate Itself. Chance? Probably. But what a wondrous chance it is.
Should anyone proclaim a monopoly on absolute Truth? Should an ant claim to understand the inner workings of a flashlight? No. That would be a foolish (albeit gregarious) ant.
Don't tell me that your God is the one true way and that only those of a certain socio-economic background will experience salvation.
Please, also, don't tell me with absolute certitude that this mortal coil is simply a matter of happenstance, and that the pinnacle of human thought and achievement is anywhere close to understanding the flashlight.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Used to be, one could be a YouTube sensation simply by getting kicked in the nuts or by having one's cat get stuck in a ceiling fan. It makes one shudder to think what's next...
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
I would never define people as a whole as a "big picture" group. No, we are a reactionary lot. Forget "what have you done for me lately?" Try "what have you done for me in the past five minutes." Because those past five minutes will define everything there is to know about a certain person or subject.
I live in the vast NY suburbs. As such I am privy to an incredibly diverse set of AM radio options. However, you'd be surprised how, after awhile, these options all seem to morph together into one steady drone. Seven conservative talk-show hosts repeating the same playbook. Traffic updates on the tens, although the traffic reports should be reduced to, simply, "everywhere." Stock updates. Curtis Freakin' Sliwa (don't ask.) Commercials. Commercials. Commercials. Commercials. And Sports Talk Radio!
I love Sports Talk Radio, and not only because I love sports, I love the callers on which Sports Talk Radio depends. Nowhere, and I mean NOWHERE can one find the type of reactionary behavior of which I speak. Sports Talk Radio is THEE microcosm of the human condition. Hear me out.
Enter Derek Jeter of the New Yankees; 5 time World Series Champion, World Series MVP, four Gold-Gloves, multiple all-star appearances, Banger of the Stars, most recently Minka Kelly....
"Ya know, nowt fuh nuttin, maybe, ya know, he's gettin' old. no disrespect awe nuttin."
"Jeetah couldn't hit the side of uh bawn wit a beach bawl."
"He's swingin' like a rusty gate ova heeya."
Sorry, it's hard to capture, phonetically, the essence of the NY accent. Anyway, this is all well and good. Jeter is a lifetime .313 hitter. Jeter is pushing 37 and plays maybe the most demanding position outside of catcher while hitting 1 or 2. It isn't unfair to question his viability in the long term. And these comments of his apparent demise have come about over the first 30 games. Optimistic feelings have gradually turned into legitimate doubts. And then Sunday, May 8. Derek Jeter goes 4 for 6 with 2HRs. Let's go to the phones...
"I knew, I'm tellin ya, awe boys back!"
"This is it! numba 28 [number of world series the Yankees would have won should they win this year] heeya we come. Screw the sawx!"
"Yestahday rivaled the birth of my first bown son and the ressah rection [the caller does believe that resurrection is, in fact, two words] of awe lowd and savya Jesus Christ."
There you go. Even though these 6 at bats represent less then 5% of Jeter's performance over the 2011 season, and the 2HRs he hit represent the only two HR's he's hit all year and 40% of the extra base hits he's hit this year, all doubt had been cast aside. All realistic questions of his age and performance related decline be damned! He was El Kapitan once again.
Enter the Fukushima Plant. Please, if you would, from the NY Times. It's a tragic situation. But to completely restructure your country's energy policy because of a freak accident that has resulted in relatively little consequence? Unfortunately, providing unlimited energy to millions of people comes at a certain amount of risk. Ask coal miners. Or off-shore oil-rig workers. Or every single American that has died in the Middle East ensuring, if nothing else, that America has open and continual access to oil. Let's go to the phones...
"Nowt fuh nuttin' but newclea powah ain't safe"
"I don't give a rat's ass if dehs ove 400 hunnerd plants operatin' wowldwide. Aintchoo seen da news?"
"I don't want my kid glowin ova heeya. Fuhgeddaboutit!"
3 months later, [for the sake of argument and my silly blog,] The U.S shuts down all of it's nuclear power plants in response to the reactionary fervor over nuclear safety, lets go to the phones...
"If I can't get my friggin Gowge Fowman Grill runnin' I'm gonna busta head."
"Yoo got any idea da last time I looked at intanet pawn?"
"Yankees awe on in 5 minutes. Grams, stawt pedalin!"
Friday, May 6, 2011
Geek Alert! Looking for something free and fun to do tonight, or any night?
Look for the International Space Station!
Um, AnnoyingJoe, isn't it, like, y'know. in space and whatnot?
Sure is! But thanks to a fairly good sized reflective surface and an active, mediocre, middle-aged yellow sun, you can see it right from your own back yard. Weather permitting.
Gee whiz. Where do I look?
Up! Well first follow this little linky-link riiiiight............HERE! Then enter in the information as to your location as requested by the website. If you can't find your EXACT town, don't worry. Just pick the town closest, it shouldn't make too much of a difference. You should see something like this....
|Wed May 04/09:33 PM||11 above W||19 above SW|
|Thu May 05/08:23 PM||41 above WNW||10 above SE|
|Fri May 06/08:47 PM||14 above W||11 above S|
Now don't be intimidated. It's all very simple. ISS is, of course, the International Space Station. The time denotes the time in which the ISS is actually visible
The Duration measures how long the ISS will actually be visible from your location.
MAX ELEV is the highest point the ISS will reach as it arcs through the sky. The zenith, directly overhead is 90 deg.
APPROACH is the location at which the ISS initially becomes visible, and Departure is the location at which the ISS disappears from view.
Here is an excellent diagram from NASA with an example of an ISS sighting...
There you have it. If you haven't yet seen the ISS flying overhead, I highly recommend it. It is surprisingly bright and smooth as it glides on by and is a testament to what we are capable of. And the kids love it! Happy viewing.
The launching of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, initially scheduled for last week, has been pushed back to at least May 16th. The May 16 launch is supposed to be the US space program's second-to-last shuttle flight to the International Space Station, followed by Atlantis in June. After that, the 30-year-old shuttle program will end.
This launch has garnered some attention because the Endeavour is to be commanded by US astronaut Mark Kelly, whose wife, US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head sustained in January.
This sad coincidence aside, these last two launches are receiving little or no attention. Go ahead, turn on the news, open the paper, visit any of dozens of news/current event websites. I dare you to find one mention of the fact that, after the June Atlantis mission, the United States will have no means with which to launch American astronauts into space. Well, no domestic means. There's always the Russians. That's right. We'll be hitch-hiking rides on Soyuz capsules to get to and from the International Space Station. Ironic that the entity that was the singular impetus and driving force of America's absolute dominance in space has morphed into a space taxi.
I know this hasn't been my best post. I just find it all sad and bittersweet. I also find it concerning and alarming that the we give such small regard and priority to an endeavor that I believe is the most important to the long term survival of our species.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Oh sure. Mass Murder. Complete subjugation of women. Intolerance on a scale not seen since the late 1930's. Women and children as human shields. Been there, done that. But Grumpy Old Man? Really? From the Times of India...
"They thought the house belonged to a drug-dealer, or perhaps a smuggler, and local people had learned to leave it well alone. When the milkman delivered he did not even ring the bell but simply left it outside the green double gates. If anyone ever stopped and leaned against the wall someone would emerge and tell them to clear off. Cricket-playing children who exuberantly hit their shots over the compound's high, barbed-wire topped walls were given money to go the local shop, but they were never allowed inside to retrieve their ball. "
As the longest game of whack-a-mole in history drags on, a kinder, gentler Osama bin Laden has popped up his furry head long enough to release a new audiotape. From the Daily Telegraph...
"A voice purporting to be that of the al-Qaeda leader calls for the creation of a new relief body to aid Muslims."
From jihad to the Red Cross...Say what you want, he's got range...
"It was the third message in recent weeks from al-Qaeda figures concerning the massive August floods that displaced 8 million people in Pakistan, signalling a concentrated campaign by the terror group to exploit public discontent and present itself as protectors of the poor."
I knew there was a catch!
"'What governments spend on relief work is secondary to what it spends on its armies,' bin Laden says on the 11-minute tape called, 'Reflections on the Method of Relief Work.'"
Available soon on i-Tunes...
"Bin Laden said a new 'well-funded' relief organization should be created to study Muslim regions near bodies of water to prevent future flooding, to create development projects in impoverished regions and to work on farming and agriculture to guarantee food security."
As long as this funding does not interfere with the funding for strapping bombs to kids and having them run into mosques. Where Muslims are.
"He called on Muslim merchants to direct their resources to cultivating agricultural land in countries like Sudan that aren't used for farming."
Oh that's nice. This just in...still subjugating and denying basic rights to women.