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Author Archive: Eamonn Fitzgerald

Ex-pat Irishman keeping an eye on the world from the Bavarian side of the Alps.

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The map is not the language

Tuesday, 21 November, 2017 0 Comments

In this particular case, Fummy, the mapmaker, says: “The map is not most difficult language for an English speaker to learn in Europe. Just most difficult language for an English speaker to learn (Europe) its a zoomed in section of a larger map that I didn’t have the time to make.”

Note: The Foreign Service Institute is the United States government’s primary training institution for employees of the foreign affairs community.

FSI

The MapPorn discussion of Fummy’s map on reddit is entertaining, informative and, at times, very reddit:

Cabes86: “Dude I’ve been doing a mixture of Rosetta Stone and DuoLingo since May in Brazilian Portuguese and I’m basically done with both. All you need to do is about 10-20 minutes a day”

TerrMys: “I actually found French grammar a bit less challenging than Italian and especially Spanish, at least when you get to more advanced levels. The fact that French uses the subjunctive much more sparingly is one big reason why. In spoken French, all of the homophonic verb forms lessen the cognitive burden somewhat too IMO. The most challenging aspects of French compared to the other Romance languages I think are 1) the larger phonetic inventory and 2) the much more complex relationship between spelling and pronunciation. That said, compared to English, French orthography is incredibly regular. Just takes a little while to learn.”

meusnomenestiesus: “Oy mate no a feckin’ shade o’ Gaelic, Scots, nor Welsh they some sorta language ain’t no one can learn eh? Edit: nor Breton nor Basque, eh? Bollocks”


W.H Auden on Gerry Adams

Monday, 20 November, 2017 0 Comments

The weekend news that Gerry Adams intends to stand down next year as the leader of Sinn Féin brought to mind W. H. Auden’s Epitaph on a Tyrant. The great poem ends with the observation that when the tyrant cried “little children died in the streets” and there can be no doubt that many little children died at the hands of Adams and his evil companions. One thinks, for example, of three-year-old Johnathan Ball and 12-year-old Tim Parry, murdered by Sinn Fein/IRA in 1993 in Warrington.

Epitaph on a Tyrant

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

W. H. Auden (1907 –p 1973)


Morrissey Spent the Day in Bed

Sunday, 19 November, 2017 0 Comments

Morrissey began the Twitter phase of his career two months ago. On 18 September, at 10.39 pm, he tweeted “Spent the Day in Bed.” Spent the Day in Bed is also the title of the first single from his new album Low In High School. In recent years, Moz has taken to saying things that people don’t want to hear and he’s not for turning now.

“Spent the day in bed
Very happy I did, yes
I spent the day in bed
As the workers stay enslaved
I spent the day in bed
I’m not my type, but
I love my bed
And I recommend that you

Stop watching the news!
Because the news contrives to frighten you
To make you feel small and alone
To make you feel that your mind isn’t your own.”


Autumn in the Alps

Saturday, 18 November, 2017 0 Comments

Specializing in what it calls “Aerial solutions for film production,” 5kdigitalfilm is a production facility based in Austria and the UK. Its clip, “Perpetual Change — Autumn in the Alps,” captures the beauty and solitude we experience amidst the great mountains.

“But if there was something roguish and fantastic about the immediate vicinity through which you laboriously made your way, the towering statues of snow-clad Alps, gazing down from the distance, awakened in you feelings of the sublime and holy.” — Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain


AI is the ‘New Electricity’

Friday, 17 November, 2017 0 Comments

Well, so says Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera and an adjunct Stanford professor who founded the Google Brain Deep Learning Project. He was delivering the keynote speech at the AI Frontiers conference that was held last weekend in Santa Clara in Silicon Valley.

“About 100 years ago, electricity transformed every major industry. AI has advanced to the point where it has the power to transform every major sector in coming years,” Ng said.

Right now, the sectors that are getting the AI “electricity” and making it part of their core activities include tech and telecoms companies, automakers and financial institutions. These are digitally mature industries that focus on innovation over cost savings. The slowest adopters of the new “electricity” are in health care, travel, professional services, education and construction.


Enter the data labelling professional

Thursday, 16 November, 2017 0 Comments

You hear the words “artificial intelligence” and what do you think of? Dystopia vs. Utopia. Stephen Hawking warning us to leave Earth and Elon Musk sounding the alarm about a Third World War. On the other hand, we have Bill Gates saying there’s no need to panic about machine learning and Mark Zuckerberg urging us to cool the fear-mongering. AI and apprehension and confusion go hand-in-hand today. The fear of a future unknown is combined a present dread that AI will take our jobs away, but every disruptive technology has seen the replacement of human workers. At the same time, we’ve been ingenious enough to develop new jobs and AI could be every bit as much a job generator as a job destroyer.

A recent report by Gartner predicts that while AI will eliminate 1.8 million jobs in the US, it will create 2.3 million jobs. The question is: Which kind of jobs will these be? Data scientists, with qualifications in mathematics and computer science, will be eagerly sought and highly paid, but what about the masses? Three words: Data Labelling Professional.

Imagine you want to get a machine to recognize expensive watches, and you have millions of images, some of which have expensive watches, some of which have cheap watches. You might need someone to train the machine to recognize images with expensive watches and ignore images without them. In other words, data labelling will be the curation of data, where people will take raw data, tidy it up and organize it for machines to process. In this way, data labelling could become an entry-level job or even a blue-collar job in the AI era. When data collection becomes pervasive in every industry, the market for data labelling professionals will boom. Take that, Stephen Hawking.

watches


Europe sans platforms

Wednesday, 15 November, 2017 0 Comments

Internet platforms are eating the world and the value of the top US platforms now exceeds $1.8 trillion. Europe, meanwhile, has no internet platform and neither does it have a single tech company in the list of the global top 50 firms. Martin Wolf of the FT examines this sad and humiliating state of affairs.

The platforms


Brexit and Jarndyce

Tuesday, 14 November, 2017 0 Comments

Like Jarndyce and Jarndyce the case of Brexit and Brexit drones on and on and on. Will it conclude with the British electorate being forced to the polls for an other referendum? Two referendums should do it, unless there’s a dispute about the correct English plural form of the word, that is. The singular, by the way, is a variant of the Latin word referre ‘to refer’ and it means ‘a thing that must be referred to the people’. And some things, such as the choice between freedom and enslavement, must be referred to the people.

This vexed question made news in June 1988, during a House of Commons debate, when the late Alan Clark, Tory MP for Kensington and Chelsea, asked for a ruling on the matter. He said he was prompted to do so because he had previously been called to order for “using the language of the common market.” His point, he said, was that he had “heard on many occasions colleagues refer to referendums — which is an exceedingly ugly term.” Clark, who was fond of the gerundive, wanted to know whether the Speaker, Betty Boothroyd, would “prefer us to continue to use the Latin word, or whether you have no objection to the continued Anglicisation of this term.” Madam Speaker replied:

“I do notice on the Public Bill List that the word referendums for Scotland and Wales is used there. The word referendum was first used in English 150 years ago, according to the Oxford English dictionary which I’ve just been able to refer to. So I imagine after 150 years the House will be quite used to it now. I think the plural is a matter of taste but I’ve always preferred the use of the English language to any Latin form if that is of some guidance.”

Now’s the time to get agreement on the plural form of ‘referendum’ because we’re going to need it.


Rain on the road

Monday, 13 November, 2017 0 Comments

On this day in 1850, the British novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer Robert Louis Stevenson was born. In his short life, he enriched the world with works such as Treasure Island, Kidnapped, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and A Child’s Garden of Verses:

Rain

The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894)

Brolly


We are in the mountains and they are in us

Sunday, 12 November, 2017 0 Comments

Sliabh Ri

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” — John Muir


The 11 th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month

Saturday, 11 November, 2017 0 Comments

It’s Armistice Day. The event is commemorated every year on 11 November to mark the truce signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne in France for the cessation of hostilities. The agreement took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning — the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. More than nine million combatants and seven million civilians died as a result of the First World War.

Lieutenant Robert Martin O'Dwyer Today, we remember the World War I dead of Ballylanders, Co. Limerick: Sergeant John Brazil, Lieutenant Robert Martyn O’Dwyer and his brother Rifleman Peter O’Dwyer. Their bodies were interred in places as far apart as Pas de Calais in France and the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. May they rest in peace.

“The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them.” — Czesław Miłosz