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Do AI’s dream of cat videos?


So, Google wired together 16,000 processors into the largest neural network ever, turned it loose on the Internet, allowed it to study anything it wanted, and it chose to…watch cat videos.

I suspect the reason why is not all that interesting. Probably something like the high proportion of cat pictures made cat pictures flag up as significant. But that just sucks the fun right out of it.

‘Scuse cellphone picture — it’s so rare to see Jack and Charlotte together without fur flying. We’ve just wormed himself. Frontline used to do the trick, but it totally stopped working for us, and our vet said (a couple of years ago) that they had received tons of complaints about that. He spoke to the Frontline rep, who swore blind that nothing had changed. Does it still work where you are?

We used a prescription stuff called Advocate last night. It seems to be working well, but I just made the mistake of reading some online reviews (“it killed my kitten!”) and now I’ll be checking him out every few minutes.

Uncle B is very disappointed in me for not running with this story tonight. He’s a very basic creature.

Happy Friday, y’all. We have an embarrassment of village fêtes to go to this weekend.

July 17, 2015 — 9:20 pm
Comments: 18

Oh, good. Her.


Oh, good – Meghan McCain is back on the telly. The best line in the article I just linked:

Meghan McCain, who has identified as a Republican in the past…

LOL at the phraseology. Bruce Jenner identifies as a woman. Furries identify as otherkin. Meghan McCain identifies as a Republican (no, wait, not even that…she has done in the past).

If the picture doesn’t ring a bell, I first posted it shortly after this incident, when Meghan tweeted a picture of herself holding up a book and two tits.

Woman gets on my nerves, in case you can’t tell.

Anyway, I had hoped to share some nuggets of McCainiac wisdom with you tonight, but I forgot: Meghan blocked me on Twitter, ages ago. The only person who ever blocked me on Twitter.

I hope I was really mean.

July 16, 2015 — 9:43 pm
Comments: 12

A short, sad story with no illustration

I took a late nap tonight, so let my post be a short, sad story.

We live near several beaches popular with tourists in the Summer. Over the weekend, a young woman drowned at one of them. The local paper ran a couple of lines on it: thirty year old woman, got into trouble in the water and drowned, was airlifted to the hospital, all attempts to save her were in vain. End of.

Here’s what actually happened: a Muslim family came down from London for the day. I doubt any of them could swim. The young woman went into water in her Muslim regalia — I’m not sure if it was the full niqab, but certainly a large, loose, heavy skirt. When it got soaked, the weight of it pulled her under the water. Her female relatives were afraid to come after her and the men of the party — because of awkward prohibitions about touching — stood helplessly by her body in the water until rescuers arrived.

By which time it was impossible to save her. Though the police tried, giving the family the additional upsetting spectacle of seeing her largely disrobed and handled by a strange man in a public place.

This is not the first time this exact thing has happened on this same beach.

So: the papers are not telling you things because they are desperate not to offend.

And: the group they are desperate not to offend really, really needs to know this thing, at risk of drowning.

This is all kinds of messed up.

July 15, 2015 — 9:51 pm
Comments: 12

Racist Atticus Finch was first Atticus Finch


Welp, Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman went on sale today, and lefty hearts exploded all over the world. Here, if you needed some cheering up, some quotes from the article I just linked:

The New York Times said the revelation could “reshape Ms Lee’s legacy” and made for “disturbing reading”.

Writing for The Guardian, Mark Lawson said: “If the text now published had been the one released in 1960, it would almost certainly not have achieved the same greatness. This is not so much due to literary inferiority, but because Go Set a Watchman is a much less likeable and school-teachable book.

The Independent’s Arifa Akbar said: “We will never be able to read Mockingbird in the same way again, and never see Atticus in the same light again.

(By the way, LOL at the name Arifa Akbar. You reckon when they call out her table in a restaurant, everybody hits the deck?).

This is because Watchman’s Atticus Finch is a racist who once belonged to the Klan (“when it was respectable, like the Masons”) and says things like, “Do you want your children going to a school that’s been dragged down to accommodate Negro children?”

Oh, the book is still anti-racist — it takes place twenty years after Mockingbird and the whole point is that a grownup, sophisticated Scout winces at the n-word — but Atticus Finch was a beloved icon, now unceremoniously de-pedestalled.

Tee hee.

Even better, it turns out Watchman was actually the first draft of Mockingbird. Lee’s literary agent read it and thought it would work better if she extracted the flashbacks and made them into their own book. So racist Atticus was there all along, the first and original Atticus.

Tee hee hee.

If any of you actually read it, would you let me know if it’s well written? Because she never published again, there was a persistent rumor that Truman Capote, her lifelong friend (and the model for Dill) was the actual author.

July 14, 2015 — 9:06 pm
Comments: 16

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and begaak!


In 1990, an Indonesian man had a vision from God to build a prayer house in the shape of a peace dove on top of a hill. So he did this.

Locals call it the Chicken Church. It’s huge. And abandoned. And creepy as hell.

More, more, more, more, more and more abandoned stuff.

I love these things. Thanks to Uncle B for finding the Chikken Church.

July 13, 2015 — 9:35 pm
Comments: 12

Because you can have too much nature, is why


Beautiful sunny day in our garden today, so I stayed inside and made laserbeams shoot out of Mary Poppins’ eyes.

Oh, right. Here ya go.

Did I ever tell you my Mary Poppins story? I was five when the movie came out and I was absolutely besotted with it. Made my poor mother take me back to see it, like, five times.

After the last time, I said to her, “Mother, if you died, do you think there’s any chance Papa would remarry Julie Andrews?”

Yeah, I don’t think our relationship ever fully recovered.

It’s Friday! Go forth and have an awesome weekend. And no, nobody had Omar Sharif in the Dead Pool, unless they spelled it funny.

July 10, 2015 — 8:14 pm
Comments: 17

Mmmm…I’m stuffed!


I’ve been out drinkin’ wine and playin’ pétanque with the neighbors, so here’s a stuffed stoat from a museum yesterday.

I think they nailed that poor beastie’s paws to that board.

July 9, 2015 — 9:31 pm
Comments: 12

I went to the place and saw the thing!


I went to Canterbury today to see the Magna Carta! It had its 800th birthday last month, as I posted at the time.

Canterbury’s copy is one of the four surviving original copies from 1215, but that wasn’t the one on display. The four Big Guys are going to the British Library. The one I saw was from Faversham in Kent and is a later issue from 1300.

Another one of this edition turned up recently in a Victorian photo album in Sandwich. It’s probably worth £10M, so do check that junk in the attic before you toss it.

This one is displayed in a darkened room in a glass case draped in black cloth. If you want to see it, you ask the boy, and he gently raises the cloth and lets you peek under it for a moment. Hence the shitty out of focus picture.

I found this process awfully funny, for some reason.

Then we went to Canterbury’s city museum, which was beyond awesome. The building was as cool as anything in it (it was the Poor Priests Hospital, built in 1373). But it was dark and none of my pictures came out, sadly.

A long and enjoyable day. My dogs are barkin’.

July 8, 2015 — 10:23 pm
Comments: 7

Jack Ma’s huge head and tiny face fill me with awe


Jack Ma, founder of Ali Baba. Richest man in China. Actually he sounds like a cool guy, but he looks so strange, I actually googled to see if he had some kind of weird metabolic disorder I shouldn’t make fun of.

Nope, just freaky looking.

China, if you haven’t paid attention, is in deep shit.

On the domestic front, Uncle B and I have just trimmed and washed nine flipping pounds of gooseberries for the freezer. Gooseberries. They’re a misery.

Also, my pickled carrots have had eight days of the seven to nine I was supposed to give them. They’re delicious. I’ve put them in the fridge.

Does anyone know…now they’re in the cool, do I need to keep burping them?

July 7, 2015 — 10:05 pm
Comments: 13

Cheez it! It’s Angela!


I wonder how many Greeks, in their heart of hearts, think a No vote means they don’t have to give the money back?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted to see someone – anyone – kick Europe in the nuts, but it’s awfully hard to see how Greece is going to wriggle out of this.

Janet Daley was good on this score.

July 6, 2015 — 8:50 pm
Comments: 18