Monday, 4 April 2016

Anthropocene is not our scene

Albert Enstein once said:
I don't know what weapons they'll use
in World War 3, but WW4 will be
fought with sticks and stones.

What he means is, in our haste for results,
we're going to lay waste to all we've created.
And this is from an intelligent man, who
actually helped atomic research.

We are having such an effect on the planet that
we got our own -cene, the Anthropocene.
The problem is that we are so rapacious as
regards our use of the planet that we seem to
forget that one should not shit where one eats.

Nuclear energy (and bombs, for that matter) is
one sign that we would prefer energy now
and toxic radioactive waste for 50 000 years.
"Just turn the feckin tv on!
Split an atom, if you have to.
I don't care about future generations."

There are parts of this planet that we know as
no-go areas. Unfortunately, animals don't have
an understanding.
the fish will fight back, though

 We have Fukishima:




Bikini Atoll

We have wrecked enough of this planet and
still we haven't got the message. Let's not
even talk about standard pollution, or climate
change. Trump and most of the US don't
even agree that it exists, largely because
they think it means we have to surrender
our fossil-fuel-burning toys (supercars, yachts).

And now, there's a new underground bunker
for nuclear waste that will be sealed and have
signs posted warning people  not to go in.
What is telling is that they're are trying to
create visual signs for people who don't
speak any earthly language.
What does that mean? That there's every
possibility that humans will destroy so
much of humanity that languages will
no longer be taught in those things we
call schools. The US and UK are well on
their way to de-educating poor people already.

I have some ideas for these people:
-the three-eyed fish.
-the melting man from Robocop
-the pictures of the men who split
the atom. they'll be famous and
believed to be the devil bythe
23rd century shamanic religion.

checkit: Guardian
Generation Anthropocene: How humans have altered the planet for ever

We are living in the Anthropocene age, in which human influence on the planet is so profound – and terrifying – it will leave its legacy for millennia. Politicians and scientists have had their say, but how are writers and artists responding to this crisis?
Robert Macfarlane

Friday 1 April 2016 12.00 BST
Last modified on Saturday 2 April 2016 00.06 BST

In 1981 the research field of “nuclear semiotics” was born. A group of interdisciplinary experts was tasked with preventing future humans from intruding on to a subterranean storage facility for radioactive waste, then under construction in the New Mexico desert. The half-life of plutonium-239 is around 24,100 years; the written history of humanity is around 5,000 years old. The challenge facing the group was how to devise a sign system that could semantically survive even catastrophic phases of planetary future, and that could communicate with an unknown humanoid-to-be.
Construction of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, an underground nuclear waste dump. Photograph: Eric Draper/AP

Several proposals involved forms of hostile architecture: a “landscape of thorns” in which 15m-high concrete pillars with jutting side spikes impeded access; a maze of sharp black rock blocks that absorbed solar energy to become impassably hot. But such aggressive structures can act as enticements rather than cautions, suggesting here be treasure rather than here be dragons. Prince Charming hacked his way through the briars to wake Sleeping Beauty. Indiana Jones braved wooden spikes and rolling boulders to reach the golden idol in a booby-trapped Peruvian temple. Sometimes I wonder if the design task should be handed wholesale to the team behind the Ikea instruction manuals: if they can convey in pictograms how to put up a Billy bookcase anywhere in the world, they can surely tell someone in 10,000 years’ time not to dig in a certain place.

The New Mexico facility is due to be sealed in 2038. The present plans for marking the site involve a berm with a core of salt, enclosing the above-ground footprint of the repository. Buried in the berm will be radar reflectors, magnets and a “Storage Room”, constructed around a stone slab too big to be removed via the chamber entrance. Data will be inscribed on to the slab including maps, time lines, and scientific details of the waste and its risks, written in all current official UN languages, and in Navajo: “This site was known as the WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Site) when it was closed in 2038 AD … Do not expose this room unless the information centre messages are lost. Leave the room buried for future generations.” Discs made of ceramic, clay, glass and metal, also engraved with warnings, will be embedded in the soil and the shaft seals. Finally, a “hot cell”, or radiation containment chamber, will be constructed: a reinforced concrete structure extending 60 feet above the earth and 30 feet down into it: VanderMeer’s “Tower” made real.

I think of that configuration of berm, chamber, shaft, disc and hot cell – all set atop the casks of pulsing radioactive molecules entombed deep in the Permian strata – as perhaps our purest Anthropocene architecture. And I think of those multiply repeated incantations – pitched somewhere between confession, caution and black mass; leave the room buried for future generations, leave the room buried for future generations … – as perhaps our most perfected Anthropocene text.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

the new suicidal reality show

This is a story which is an indication of how
twisted it is that UK folks defer to upper-
class bosses and their stupid ideas without
questioning danger/stupidity/full-body traction casts.
See banks
See politics
See dying manufacturing sector 

The art of ski jumping is ridiculously dangerous.
I can hardly believe that the Olympics has this
human-as-bird lark as an official sport.
Nevertheless, the athletes are obviously well-
trained and rarely get injured.

Now, the UK, in its search for new reality gold,
has tried to send complete neophytes of a ski

A lot of them are quitting.
Many are injuring their spines.
[so, what's a little spinal tap, amongst friends?]

I would hate to think that it was designed to
advertise the new movie about Eddie the
Eagle. As in, we're proud of Eddie, so
let's chuck ourselves off a ski jump. What
could go wrong?
[a knock-off of Cool Runnings?]

I don't know who's crazier, the show's
creator, the idiot who signed off the
development of this show, or the
"you want me to jump what?"

more later

Checkit: BBC

The Jump: Ex-Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding leaves show

27 February 2016

Former Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding has become the sixth contestant to drop out of Channel 4 series The Jump because of injury.

The 34-year-old said she had "no choice" but to leave the reality skiing show because of a ligament injury.

Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle, actress Tina Hobley and Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington have already pulled out.

Harding, whose departure will be aired on Sunday, said she was thankful for the "once-in-a-lifetime journey".

The Jump sees celebrities taking part in various winter sports competitions, including ski-jumping, bobsleigh and speed skating in Austria.

The show's third series has now seen six stars retire from the slopes.

Britain's most successful gymnast Tweddle, 30, needed neck surgery following a fall during training
Former Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington, 26, withdrew after dislocating her shoulder.
Holby City actress Hobley, 44, also headed for the exit after she dislocated her elbow and suffered two fractures to her arm
Made In Chelsea star Mark-Francis Vandelli, 26, pulled out after fracturing his ankle
1992 Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie pulled out after he failed to recover in time from a hamstring injury

After revealing her injury, Harding tweeted that she had been "gutted" [NOT HALF AS MUCH AS IF YOU LAND ON YOUR STOMACH & BLOW A FAT HERNIA- Cos67] to receive the news that after six weeks of training she would not be able to continue.

But she said to make it as far as she did had surpassed her own expectations.
'Great competitor'

A spokeswoman for Channel 4 confirmed Harding had withdrawn on medical advice after pulling a ligament in her knee during training on Friday.

"She has been advised by medics to rest and will undergo physiotherapy. Sarah has been a great competitor and we wish her a speedy recovery," she said.

Image caption Beth Tweddle tweeted a picture of herself wearing a neck brace before leaving hospital

Former England rugby player Ben Cohen, 37, who was drafted in as some of the stars were forced to drop out, was also injured after he said he had used his face to stop himself in an accident.

He lost two teeth and needed 20 stitches, he said on Twitter, but will remain in the competition.

At the beginning of February, Channel 4 said it had asked producers to "review safety procedures again to further reduce the prospect of accident".

The first review came after Olympic bronze medallist Tweddle had surgery to fuse fractured vertebrae in her neck. She was discharged from hospital 10 days later.

Harvard discovers racism

This is a multi-layered story about how the richest,
most famous, best US university has finally decided
to recognise the racism in its midst.

In a similar development, Oxford University is facing
the spectre of Cecil Rhodes, a slave owner. Yes, that
Rhodes, of the Rhodes scholarship.
I think that you have to be transparent and then the
public will decide what to do. In most cases, slave
abetters and especially slave-owners need to be
taken down a rung, because they became the famous
grandees of history because of slavery.

At Harvard, their Law school symbol was taken on
from the Royall family (sounds made up, like Cadillac)
which donated its estate to fund the Law School.
Unfortunately, as the symbol hints at, the Royalls'
money was made thanks to the free but not
freely-volunteered work of slaves.
The wheat bushels on the real crest
have been modified here to show
slaves carrying bushels.

So, the family had slaves? A certain
kind of proof, given to us by the
reality shows which, for example
showed the Ben Affleck's family
were slave owners, is that the
African slaves took on the name of
their slave owner, and often gave
birth to their "illegitimate"
-under-the-"law" children.
It's hard to find any.

[this is why Tarantino is brilliant. As if small-time thugs have been
to Paris and Amsterdam.]

Nevertheless, blacks in the US,
or the UK, did not have
it as easy as Dido.

The blatantly obvious part of this is the fact that,
forgetting what the story below says, the wheat
pictured is not on the backs of workers, but
we can now "see" the slaves, because that's
what they were meant to depict, even if the
Royall family didn't consider slaves to be

I don't think this goes anywhere near the topic
of how much slavery has helped make the US
what it is, including Harvard University. I just
discovered that George Washington was not
only the richest man in revolutionary Americaa,
but also a land speculator and a slave owner. The
US must come clean and admit all this to start
healing the wounds. It's just symbolism, but
it means more than that to many whose family
history is entwined with the chains of slavery.

checkit: Guardian

Harvard law school drops official shield over slavery links

University committee rules shield donated by family that built wealth through slavery does not reflect institution’s values

Staff and agencies

Saturday 5 March 2016 03.59 GMT
Last modified on Monday 7 March 2016 11.44 GMT

Harvard law school will remove its official shield following months of protest at the symbol’s ties to an 18th-century slaveholder.

A committee at the prestigious university, which counts president Barack Obama among its alumni, was convened to rule on the issue and on Friday decided the shield was inappropriate.
Harvard 'black tape' vandalism brings law school's controversial past to fore
Read more

“We believe that if the law school is to have an official symbol, it must more closely represent the values of the law school, which the current shield does not,” the panel, made up of professors, alumni, students and staff, wrote in its recommendation.

The school has sent its decision to the university’s governing body, the Harvard corporation, asking for the emblem to stop being used as its official shield. It was not immediately clear when the corporation would take up the issue.

The shield’s meaning has changed over time, said Bruce Mann, committee chairman and Harvard law professor.

“Too many people think the shield has become an impediment,” he said. “Too many people see the association with slavery.”

The committee’s 10-2 recommendation was backed by Dean Martha Minow.

“I endorse the recommendation to retire the shield because its association with slavery does not represent the values and aspirations of the Harvard law school and because it has become a source of division rather than commonality in our community,” she wrote to students and alumni.

The shield, officially adopted in 1937, depicts three bundles of wheat, an image borrowed from the family crest of Isaac Royall Jr, under the university’s motto “Veritas”.

Royall donated his estate to create the first law professorship at Harvard University. His father, Isaac Royall Sr, made much of the family wealth on the backs of slaves on Caribbean sugar plantations and Massachusetts farms.

Minow created the committee after some law school students formed a group called Royall Must Fall to denounce the shield.

“We definitely consider this a victory that represents our tireless advocacy,” said AJ Clayborne, a third-year Harvard law student and member of Royall Must Fall, adding that the group was also dedicated to fighting other racial injustices at the school.

Not everyone agreed with the recommendation. One professor on the committee, joined by a student, said keeping the shield was a way to honor the slaves whose sacrifice provided the Royall family with its wealth.

They said the shield should be tied “to a historically sound interpretative narrative about it” and suggested adding the word “Iustitia” (justice in Latin) below the word “Veritas”.

The move to drop the shield came after Harvard University announced it would change the centuries-old title “house master”, used to describe the Ivy League’s residential administrators, to the term “faculty dean”.

There were waves of protests in late 2015 across several US college campuses, including Yale and Princeton, where students rallied against what they saw as institutional racism. Activists claimed the title “house master” was inappropriate and conjured a connection to slavery.

Associated Press contributed to this report

Microsoft's Artificial Troll

That's what the world needs. More Internet trolls.

I think that Microsoft's project is worthwhile,
unlike its computer software which is still
the binary version of a bucket of  bolts,
even after 30+ years.

It's good because it is supposedly a learning,
mind-like system. So, it may even mimic
some of the human stages of Internet Chat
Literacy (trademark).

What it shows is an arc of development of
that is similar to that of a human. It is
"cognitive" overload.
It is mind-blowing to be able to sit in front
of your computer and chat with people on
the other side of our blue sphere. This is
especially life-changing if you're a lonely
neurotic blogger, like me.
What that means is that you get a response
where in Reality 1.0, you get ignored even
by your mother. That opens a pandora's box
of repressed emotions, from happiness (and
vulnerability) but through a series of
disappointments (cuz others just don't play
in the way you want to) to curmudgeonly
Admit it. We've all been there, at least for a
short while.

What I don't like is that the AI bot's twitter
account shows a human face. That can only
confuse things.
Indeed, I've noticed some
troll bots let loose on twitter. They seem
to engage with people but then if you
insult them ever so indirectly, they do
not react. A human troll would.

What I have practiced, in order to discover
if a troll is a computer or not is to use my
Turing Troll Test.
I assume that if you use the word "asshole",
the computer could be programmed to produce
an appropriate response.
If however, you use a more nuanced critique
that nevertheless would insult any human on
the planet, then the Trap is set. If the troll
doesn't get it, then it's a bot.
Then I enquire: "isn't it strange that you're
not responding to my concerns," and again
no answer is forthcoming.
When I claim "you're a bot", some of
the trolls respond back and say that they
"are" not. But I already have my answer.

checkit: Guardian

Microsoft 'deeply sorry' for racist and sexist tweets by AI chatbot

Company finally apologises after ‘Tay’ quickly learned to produce offensive posts, forcing the tech giant to shut it down after just 16 hours
Microsoft’s artificial intelligence chatbot Tay didn’t last long on Twitter.

Staff and agencies

Saturday 26 March 2016 16.52 GMT
Last modified on Tuesday 29 March 2016 09.53 BST

Microsoft has said it is “deeply sorry” for the racist and sexist Twitter messages generated by the so-called chatbot it launched this week.

The company released an official apology after the artificial intelligence program went on an embarrassing tirade, likening feminism to cancer and suggesting the Holocaust did not happen.
Tay, Microsoft's AI chatbot, gets a crash course in racism from Twitter
Read more

The bot, known as Tay, was designed to become “smarter” as more users interacted with it. Instead, it quickly learned to parrot a slew of anti-Semitic and other hateful invective that human Twitter users fed the program, forcing Microsoft Corp to shut it down on Thursday .

Following the disastrous experiment, Microsoft initially only gave a terse statement, saying Tay was a “learning machine” and “some of its responses are inappropriate and indicative of the types of interactions some people are having with it.”

But the company on Friday admitted the experiment had gone badly wrong. It said in a blog post it would revive Tay only if its engineers could find a way to prevent Web users from influencing the chatbot in ways that undermine the company’s principles and values.

“We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay, which do not represent who we are or what we stand for, nor how we designed Tay,” wrote Peter Lee, Microsoft’s vice president of research.

Microsoft created Tay as an experiment to learn more about how artificial intelligence programs can engage with Web users in casual conversation. The project was designed to interact with and “learn” from the young generation of millennials.

Tay began its short-lived Twitter tenure on Wednesday with a handful of innocuous tweets.

— TayTweets (@TayandYou)
March 24, 2016

c u soon humans need sleep now so many conversations today thx💖

Then its posts took a dark turn.

In one typical example, Tay tweeted: “feminism is cancer,” in response to another Twitter user who had posted the same message.
Tay tweeting
Tay tweeting Photograph: Twitter/Microsoft

Lee, in the blog post, called web users’ efforts to exert a malicious influence on the chatbot “a coordinated attack by a subset of people.”

“Although we had prepared for many types of abuses of the system, we had made a critical oversight for this specific attack,” Lee wrote. “As a result, Tay tweeted wildly inappropriate and reprehensible words and images.”

Microsoft has deleted all but three of Tay’s tweets.

Microsoft has enjoyed better success with a chatbot called XiaoIce that the company launched in China in 2014. XiaoIce is used by about 40 million people and is known for “delighting with its stories and conversations,” according to Microsoft.

As for Tay? Not so much.

“We will remain steadfast in our efforts to learn from this and other experiences as we work toward contributing to an Internet that represents the best, not the worst, of humanity,” Lee wrote.

Reuters contributed to this report