Thursday, 8 November 2018

Philby Immortalised

I'm starting to wonder if Putin is just parodying himself at this point .....

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Roald Dahl's dark side

Well this is disappointing to find out. I'd never known that the famous Roald Dahl was an anti-semite.

However, having read some of his adult books I did know there was a darker side to his character. 'My Uncle Oswald' is pure filth and definitely crosses the line into outright racism at points. 

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Varadkar talks sense

The Tories may claim to have agreed 95% of the issues to do with separation from Europe but they seem completely incapable of dealing with the Irish border issue.

By their game of brinkmanship in relying on DUP votes to run the country they are imperiling the hard-won peace in Ireland for which better politicians fought in more sensible days. 

With any luck a compromise will be reached but it is stupid and wrong to put the Irish people on the line for what is essentially a result of Tory infighting.

Also interested to see that the current Taoiseach is openly homosexual and has Indian heritage. Remind me again why our prime ministers in the supposedly cosmopolitan UK have all been so ethnically homogeneous and (at least in public) socially conventional?

Monday, 22 October 2018

Race for the finish ....

Brext discussions are 95% done? More credibly, Mrs May is talking 100% bollocks.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Distraction Tactics

Not a bad display of geography knowledge, President Trump, although if you were really looking for election meddling and were mentally capable of taking heed of your own intelligence services you might be looking north of the Sino-Russian border ....

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Broadcasting from Orbit

The world is always stranger than you can imagine. Just stumbled across these two linked astronomical stories courtesy of the Guardian:

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Chinatown hits back

Absolutely and completely fucking warranted.

If the Home Office insist on creating a 'hostile environment' for those who come to live and work in this country (or even associate with friends and colleagues who do) then they should expect the occasional reminder that our culture and economy are built on immigration.

Even if one consents to heavy handed bullying of immigrants what sort of message does this send out to those vital non-EU countries that we are meant to be striving for trade deals with?

Saturday, 30 June 2018

The Turing Test and Culture

Been a long while since I've posted on here - 4 months according to the black box recorder. Regrettably (or unregrettably as tastes vary) this will be another short one.

In the brilliant film Ex Machina we get this dialogue between Caleb and Nathan talking about a nascent AI:

Caleb - "She made a joke".

Nathan - "Right. When she threw your line back at you. About being interested to see what she'd choose. Right, I noticed that, too."

Caleb - "
Yeah, that got me thinking, you know. In a way, that's the best indication of AI that I've seen in her so far. It's discretely complicated. It's like... it's kind of non-autistic."

Within the confines of the Turing Test (around which the movie is based) this makes perfect sense. The Turing Test is all about appearing eager and natural in making an impression. A sullen or non-responsive AI would be far less likely to pass than one that appeared outgoing, humorous and friendly.

Yet surely in the interests of a conclusive test we are diminishing the wide range of human experience. Autistic people are people too and some people tend to be more 'natural' in conversation than others.

Furthermore our perception of what is a normal method of response is hugely dependent on the culture and social setting in which the Test occurs. Asking if a relative stranger is in a relationship might seem perfectly natural in an American tech-firm but would have been seen as extremely forward or blunt in many historical or contemporary non-Western societies.

Not that this invalidates the test of course. It is simply a tool for evaluating AI and makes no claims that it should be the only method of divining consciousness. Still consideration of the cultural baggage we may be bringing in to the test is generally ignored in favour of the technical and societal consequences of developing a functional AI.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Selective Reasoning

So after the Financial Times mens-only club revelations of last month in the Financial Times, I don't recall the Tory right calling for the end of boozy dinners where rich, middle aged men could leer over young women.

Funny how when it is a more mainstream (and arguably inconvenient to the government/military) charity they sit up and start calling for bans and aid cuts.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

End of Days

I blame Trump and/or Brexit.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Some mornings are just strange ...

1) I found 10,000 Vietnamese dong in my pillow case while stripping the sheets off my bed. Admittedly this was not entirely unsuspected as I'd been using the note as a bookmark until it disappeared a while back.

2) Turns out my contactless card payments at the V-Shed, Bristol Wetherspoons last night have been credited to the Ivy Wall Spalding Wetherspoons in Spalding, Lincolnshire. Hopefully this is just a glitch in their systems and not some Machiavellian case of card fraud.

3) Has not happened yet. I suspect it will involve badgers.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

May vs Facebook

So, a meeting of some of the world's richest and most influential people and all May can think of is to moan about terrorists and pedophiles on social media? Talk about myopic.

Fair play to McDonnell for suggesting that he might have talked about something that actually mattered - global inequality and the need for a greater focus on development.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

BBC Comedy Triumphs

So I've been watching the second series of Detectorists on Netflix with a view to catching the third series before it disappears from iPlayer. I'm very much enjoying it so far - seems like the sort of gentle and charitable comedy that has largely been replaced on mainstream TV by brasher and meaner shows.

I'm  up to episode three and I'm not entirely sold yet. It's shaping up nicely in terms of the main search for the WW2 bomber and the Mayor's ceremonial chain but the little details and dialogue are always going to be what makes it in the end. "Nostalgia conventions aren't what they used to be" was a gem however. I laughed for a long time.

My other recent foray into BBC comedy was the first series of Upstart Crow. It was definitely a mixed bag. Some of the jokes worked and I liked both David Mitchell as Shakespeare and Tim Downie as a foppish Marlowe. The nods to Blackadder were also funny especially in the finale. However, there are also some markedly dull bits, especially in any scenes involving Harry Enfield or Spencer Jones' Kemp. It also really needs some new material, a lot of the jokes saw much exposure with no variation.     

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Trump continues to blunder through the Israeli-Palestinian china shop

Personally I wouldn't be doubling down on such an idiotic decision if I was Trump (god forbid). Unpredictability and threats to cut aid might seem like a quick fix to a failed businessman but a constructive intermediary has to maintain good relations with both sides.

His current policies simply mean that the US will become not only an irrelevance but an active obstacle to peace in Israel (and the surrounding countries with Palestinian refugees).