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Egypt: atrocity terrorism

Saturday, 25 November, 2017 0 Comments

The carnage in the Sinai yesterday elevated atrocity terrorism to a new plane. So far, the death toll from the mosque attack is 305 and it could go even higher.

We’ve become accustomed to Islamist terrorism since the begging of this century but we’re not anesthetized to it, yet. The savage spectacle of murder and maiming inflicted upon the innocent since 9/11 by these jackals continues to shock and it’s important for the leaders of civilized nations to grasp that Islamism is different to previous forms of terror. It is morphing into something that’s nihilistic and sadistic and totalitarian. Yesterday’s slaughter, on the eve of Advent, brings to mind those fearful lines of Yeats from The Second Coming: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

Atrocity terrorism out of Egypt heralds the arrival of a very modern monster with very ancient features, red in tooth and claw and a dragging in its wake a cruel dogma that’s drenched with the blood of innocents.


Tesla’s Burning

Friday, 24 November, 2017 0 Comments

Could be the hot title of a film, that, Tesla’s Burning. You know, in the style of Paris is Burning and Mississippi Burning. Not to forget Burn After Reading and, the very topical right now, Burn Hollywood Burn.

But this is a very different script and the full title goes: Tesla’s Burning Through Nearly Half a Million Dollars Every Hour. This is a Bloomberg production and here’s a sneak preview:

“Over the past 12 months, the electric-car maker has been burning money at a clip of about $8,000 a minute (or $480,000 an hour), Bloomberg data show. At this pace, the company is on track to exhaust its current cash pile on Monday, Aug. 6. (At 2:17 a.m. New York time, if you really want to be precise.)

To be fair, few Tesla watchers expect the cash burn to continue at quite such a breakneck pace, and the company itself says it’s ramping up output of its all-important Model 3, which will bring money in the door. Investors don’t seem concerned. Tesla shares rose almost 3 percent to $317.81 Tuesday, giving it a market capitalization of $53 billion. Ford Motor Co. is worth $48 billion.”

The “Monday, Aug. 6.” referred to there, by the way, is August 2018. So will this drama end next year? Well, the wily Elon Musk is always good for a surprise twist and last week he unveiled his latest plan to raise funds. The Tesla CEO is asking customers to pay him upfront for vehicles that may not be delivered for years yet. It’s an old trick, that, but it has worked in the past. Taking In Huge Deposits to Help Fund Tesla Through its Immense Production Challenges is not a very catchy title, but it’s far less scary than Tesla’s Burning. To be continued.


Musings upon the murderous Gerry Adams

Thursday, 23 November, 2017 0 Comments

“The first person the IRA murdered after Gerry Adams was elected Sinn Féin president was Charles Armstrong, the Ulster Unionist chair of Armagh City and District Council.”

Now, there’s an opening sentence that earns its keep. The writer is Newton Emerson and his Irish Times piece is titled “Licensing next war is Adams’s real legacy.” Emerson expands that opening sentence thus:

Adams became president on Sunday, November 13th, 1983. The following evening, a bomb exploded under Armstrong’s car as he left a council meeting. An SDLP colleague, Pat Brannigan, risked his life by pulling Armstrong from the burning wreckage. Armstrong left a wife and eight children, who heard the explosion from their house a few hundred yards away. Afterwards, they received threats and hate mail and were forced to move. To the IRA supporter, every victim becomes culpable by the mere fact of their victimisation.

The barbarism Gerry Adams and his Sinn Féin/IRA “comrades” exhibited in killing Charles Armstrong was part of a pattern: “Three weeks after the Armagh bomb, the law lecturer and UUP assembly member Edgar Graham was murdered by the IRA — shot eight times in the back as he left the library at Queen’s University, Belfast. He had been considered a future liberal leader of the party.”

In Ireland and abroad, Gerry Adams is celebrated as a “freedom fighter” but he’s nothing of the sort. He’s a bloodstained monster.


Fighting the maskirovka of the Russian Elephant

Wednesday, 22 November, 2017 0 Comments

“As the West considers how to respond to the Kremlin’s use of bots, trolls, bullshit news, dark ads and hacks as tools of foreign policy, the way we describe things will define whether we prevail.” So writes Peter Pomerantsev in Beware the Russian Elephant.

The evil we’re up against is fundamental and it was constructed during the last century as part of what is called maskirovka, a Russian doctrine that embraces military deception, ranging from camouflage to denial and deceit to propaganda. It also embraces a cast of unsavoury characters that includes Putin and Snowden, who are now the mortal enemies of the West. So how can they be opposed, overcome?

Although it does appear at times as if the Kremlin has the upper hand, Peter Pomerantsev is far from defeatist because the Kremlin finds itself in a dilemma, he says. Snippet:

“…it needs the media fireworks of a verbal conflict with the West to distract from its own failures domestically and to give it meaning, but it is also reliant on the very same West for advertising to fund its hate speech-filled television channels, for technology to extract its oil, and for banks and law courts to protect its elite’s investments. These are the spots to target. If this were a war, after all, you would never engage the enemy in the battle he desires. There are more painful measures to take against his active measures.”

This is our fight. These are our freedoms. We cannot surrender.


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 – 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