Robert Munsch’s book Mud Puddle is a really cute book, until the end. Neither Anya nor I like that she hurts the playful mud monster. So we take turns making up new endings – the mud puddle runs away, and finds an Anya. And jumps on her head. Her mom washes her off then dresses her in dingy old clothes and sends her back outside. The mud puddle jumps on her head, she jumps on the mud puddle’s head, her dog jumps on both of their heads. Then Anya picks up her dog and the mud puddle wraps himself around them both in a BIG hug.
I didn’t realize people were seriously hoping Oprah Winfrey would run for president. I don’t believe an inexperienced individual instantaneously makes a bad president – they could know their limitations and rely heavily on experts, then use their judgement to decide. I’d probably have inexperienced people with trusted judgement as cabinet heads with dual second-in-commands – a guy from Exxon and a guy from the Sierra Club can explain why we should / shouldn’t be drilling in the ANWR, then the department head decides.
The problem I have with Oprah is her judgement of an ‘expert’ – the source of wisdom used to determine policy. Maybe all of the Dr Oz miracle supplements and Dr Phil moments are just to make money. Maybe she’s totally aware that whatever the miracle anti-aging eye cream of the week is a scam and that injecting mass doses of plant-sourced estrogen doesn’t do anything to keep you young. But she’s either hawking snake oil or she actually believes this stuff. Neither is a particularly desirable attribute of a president.
There’s a rather graphic write-up from a woman who went on a date with Aziz Ansari. I don’t know if something got lost in translation, but I was put off by the claim of a “rushed” dinner – the only bit that the writing conveyed as rushed was between getting the cheque and leaving. I generally take out my card when I request the cheque, glance at the bill when it is delivered and have the server take the card immediately. That’s not to force my dining partner into anything – we’ve already decided we are done and want to leave. If you wanted to finish your glass of wine (or wanted to drink another glass from the not-yet-empty bottle), then you don’t agree to leave yet. You say “I really like this wine, let’s talk for a few minutes while I finish my glass”. Or “I’d like to have a cup of coffee before we leave”.
Off-putting story aside, it’s seemed in a nebulous area between outright assault and a consensual encounter. It’s perfectly reasonable to consent to one particular act but not want to engage in another (they have oral sex that she doesn’t want to progress to intercourse). But what gets me is that throughout most of the story, they were not dressed. I get this from a paragraph *near the end* where the guy says let’s chill on the couch, but with our clothes on this time and she says they got dressed. OK, maybe they were still in their underwear or something … but still.
I totally support the idea that men can control themselves. Whatever a person wears isn’t an invitation to be assaulted. If someone comes back to your house after a date and takes off their blazer, that’s not an invitation to aggressive pursuit. But someone who comes back to your house after a date, gets undressed, engages in some sexual act, does not want to engage in another specific act, but continues to wander around your house without their clothes!?! How in the hell can that person claim to be sending non-verbal signal that you are not interested in continued sexual interactions?? If you aren’t interested, put your bloody clothes back on. *That* is a non-verbal signal that you are not interested. Or send a verbal signal. “I’m not interested in sexual intercourse with someone I’ve just met, and we’ve had as much oral sex as I am comfortable with tonight. If you want to chill out together or talk, that’s fine. Otherwise, I’ll see you later.” The most generous reading is that the woman was sending very mixed signals, and it would be better if men took anything other than an enthusiastic ‘yes’ as ‘no’. Maybe that’s the point she’s making??
I was in University when the ‘ask and receive verbal consent for each move’ was a policy (and a joke) – “I’m going to move my hand to your breast, is that OK?”, “Now I am going to put my other hand on your elbow, is that OK?”. The logical conclusion, as a legally minded individual, was that lawyers should draft and sell a few different written consent contracts. One agreeing to carte blanche access to the other person, one for oral sex, one for penetrative sex with condom, etc. Then both parties sign the agreement. If they want to move farther than originally planned, stop and sign a new agreement. Bonus side effect, you take a break from the heat of the moment and decide if you actually want to move farther than originally intended. Less apt to regret your actions after-the-fact. Obviously you’d need a on-the-spot blood test and breathalyzer reading to confirm that judgement wasn’t impaired. But we’ve all got cell phones with video cameras now, record the test, the results, and the signing. Doesn’t ensure you won’t feel grossly violated the next day, but there was no misunderstanding or “they got me drunk so I’d be down with it”.
I worry that a movement that started with power imbalance coercion and physical force coercion has transmogrified into the same “he misread my signals” from my University years.
Over the weekend, when it was negative five degrees, our neighbor’s power went out in the middle of the night. Some trees along the line grew into the power lines and had been abrading the line for some time, and a handful of arborists had to come out and try to trim the tree back. In the dark. At negative five degrees. Not the most fun job I could imagine, and the ironic this is it was the same team that had been out in the summer to clear trees along a stretch of the power lines a bit farther down.
The problem, it seems, is that it’s terribly time consuming to have arborists walking along the line to see where things actually need to be cut. Instead they just hit every section once per unit time. Sometimes that’s a quick couple branches snipped in a hardwood grove. Sometimes that’s serious maintenance in softwood groves. And sometimes delta-time is too long for, say, our line of pine trees. And sometimes the team doesn’t do a particularly good job of trimming the trees.
Made me wonder about having drones fly along the line – you’d still need someone to drive out, and I’d recharge the batteries in the van/truck so they’d be ready to go when I got to the next site. A single person flying a drone over a stretch of power lines could generate more realistic work orders for the arborists – skip the bits that didn’t grow much, realize these pine trees are endangering the lines before you had to call out a crew on Sunday night. They could also run through the same line post-maintenance and verify the work was done well.
We’ve conceptualized home security drones for some time with autonomous programming that instructs the drones to return to a charging station when their batteries become depleted. Feed the video back to a platform that knows what the area should look like and alert on abnormalities.
The idea of a drone patrol is interesting to me because optimizing the ‘random walk’ algorithm to best suit the implementation is challenging. The algorithm would need to be modified to account for areas that other drones recently visited and allow weighting for ease of ingress (i.e. it’s not likely someone will scale a cliff wall to infiltrate your property. A lot of ‘intrusions’ will come through the driveway). Bonus points for a speaker system that would have the drone direct visitors to the appropriate entrance (please follow me to the front door) — a personal desire because delivery people seem to believe both our garage and our kitchen patio are the front door.
This is a great security solution when it’s unique, but were the idea to be widely adopted … it would suck as a home security implementation. Why? Drones with video feeds sound like a great way to deter trespassing. But drones have practical limitations. Home break-ins would be performed during storms. Or heavy snowfall. Or …
What if the drone charging base has wheels – during adverse weather, the drone can convert itself into an autonomous land vehicle. I’d probably include an additional battery in the base as the wheeled vehicle traversing land would use more energy. And there would be places a wheeled vehicle could not travel. The converted drone would be able to cover some of the property, and generally the area closest to the structures could be traversed.
I may not be a stable genius, but I know enough history to know an unpopular figure with a large counter-following is not going to reduce interest in a book or media outlet by condemning it. Great bit of showmanship for the 20% or so who actually enjoy the ‘burn it down’ approach to governing, but sending cease-and-desist letters trying to bar distribution of a book or identifying a media outlet / show / individual as the pinnacle of “fake news” is counter-productive. As evidenced by the publisher moving up the release date to hit shelves during the invented controversy.
Random curiosity makes people want to experience forbidden things. I sat in a radio station that had a little box with a button. Taped to the box was a sign that said “DO NOT PRESS THIS BUTTON”. Now there was a fairly large board in the studio, along with turntables, DAT players, and CD players. There were probably a good hundred buttons in that studio. I pressed a good number of them to play a specific song or switch to a specific input, but I was absolutely never inclined to randomly hit any of those buttons. Except the one with a sign. Every time I was in that studio, I had to resist the temptation to hit THAT button. Morbid curiosity – it quite evidently does something bad, but how bad? Personally, I just asked the station manager what the button did – it controlled the transmission to the tower. Turn it off, the station goes off the air. (Perfectly valid question: why in the hell is that button located in the studio? No one knew, but I assume there had to be some mechanism to drop broadcast in an emergency. Otherwise why wouldn’t the button be locked in the manager’s office?) Why not put a sign that says why the button needs to be left alone? Everyone in the studio has an interest in the station being on air, and maybe someone would think it a funny joke to turn the broadcast off at the end of their shift so the next guy is silent … but that’s an HR problem to me (i.e. cancel the miscreant’s show). I wouldn’t have been the least bit tempted to hit the button that said “BUTTON NEEDS TO REMAIN ON FOR STATION TO BROADCAST”.
In trying to explain my belief to the station manager, I cited Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. It wasn’t a bad book. Midnight’s Children was well received, and I had read it because it appeared on a list of Man Booker Prize for Fiction winning novels. Same reason I read Something to Answer For and Saville. Wasn’t interested enough in the author that I followed his works, and this was before database driven promotions where I could just supply my e-mail address and be notified whenever an author hosts an event or publishes a new book. There were a finite list of authors I found interesting enough to look for at the local book store. Until the uproar. Book burnings in the UK, although that was a little Fahrenheit 451 to me it wasn’t enough to prompt me to buy the book. Then came riots in Pakistan. And Ayatollah Khomeini issued the fatwa. I absolutely had to know what was so sacrilegious that it was worth rioting and killing a man over. The book, and its author, became generally recognizable based on the objection to his book (and somewhat who was objecting).
Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code is another example of popularizing a work through objection. Cardinal Bertone said not to buy the book. Father Cantalamessa, at an Easter service in St Peter’s basilica no less, spoke indirectly about the book “manipulat[ing] the figure of Christ under the cover of imaginary new discoveries”. Catholic groups organized boycotts of the movie. Now the movie itself was already a big-budget affair that would have been promoted by the studio … but how many non-Catholics had their interest piqued by the fact Catholics considered the story to be rotten food for the soul? When the Vatican banned Angels & Demons from entering the Holy See and any church in Rome, I wanted to see what made that book worse than Da Vinci Code.
So while I am looking forward to Trump’s Fake News Awards on Monday – especially as an exercise in trying to limit freedom of the press – I essentially consider the award ‘losers’ to be paragons of forthright reporting. Not exactly what Trump was going for.
The academic whitepapers for both of these vulnerabilities can be found at https://spectreattack.com/ — or El Reg’s article and their other article provide a good summary for those not included to slog through technical nuances. There’s a lot of talk about chip manufacturer’s stock drops and vendor patches … but I don’t see anyone asking how bad this is on hosted platforms. Can I sign up for a free Azure trial and start accessing data on your instance? Even if they isolate free trial accounts (and accounts given to students through University relationships), is a potential trove of data worth a few hundred bucks to a hacker? Companies run web storefronts that process credit card info, so there’s potentially profit to be made. Hell, is the data worth a few million to some state-sponsored entity or someone getting into industrial espionage? I’m really curious if MS uses the same Azure farms for their hosted Exchange and SharePoint services.
While Meltdown has patches (not such a big deal if you’re use cases are GPU intensive games, but does a company want a 30% performance hit on business process servers, automated build and testing machines, data mining servers?), Spectre patches turn IT security into TSA regulations. We can make a patch to mitigate the last exploit that occurred. Great for everyone else, but doesn’t help anyone who experienced that last exploit. Or the people about to get hit with the next exploit.
I wonder if Azure and AWS are going to give customers a 5-30% discount after they apply the performance reducing patch? If I agreed to pay x$ for y processing capacity, now they’re supplying 0.87y … why wouldn’t I pay 0.87x$?
I made a cake with red beets for Anya’s birthday cake. I roasted the beets instead of boiling them. Then replaced the espresso with beet juice (mostly because I had it in the pan after roasting the beets). Finally I used 7 oz of carob chips along with three tablespoons of a triple cocoa powder blend. To make it a little fancier, I made a small layer cake with the mascarpone between the layers.
I covered the cake with a stabilized whipped cream flavoured with raspberry and added fresh raspberries to to the top. The cake what what I imagined a red velvet cake was before it became white cake with red dye – a deep reddish brown colour. Very moist and dense in spite of the whipped egg whites folded into it.
Raspberry Whip Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup fresh raspberry purée (seeds strained out)
1 packet unflavoured gelatin
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
Dissolve gelatin in the raspberry purée.
Begin whipping the cream in a stand mixer. Slowly add in the sugar. Leave the mixer run and heat up the gelatin per instructions. Allow to cool a bit but don’t let it set. Drizzle raspberry mixture into cream and continue whipping to the soft peak state.
Since I was using this as a cake ‘frosting’, I immediately applied it to the cake and allowed it to set on the cake. Before the gelatin set:
After gelatin has set:
I love this pasta recipe – the original, from Cook’s Country, includes a pound of sausage and uses chicken stock in lieu of vegetable stock. The kale reminds me of brewing beer — how long the hops boils informs what type of fragrance / flavour it imparts in the beer. Added at the beginning and boiled for near sixty minutes, you get bittering flavors without aromas. Added near the end of the boil, you get aroma without bitters. Here you add some kale at the beginning of your ‘boil’ and reserve some kale to remain a little firmer.
I use a mise en place technique when cooking this recipe. Watch any TV chef and they’ve got pre-measured and pre-chopped ingredients in little bowls. When the recipe step says to sauté the onions, they dump the ready-to-go onion bits into the pan. This process speeds up filming – they aren’t paying three dozen people per hour to record the chef chopping an onion, dicing carrots, and measuring out six cups only to edit those bits out later. But professional chefs use a similar technique to organize the cooking process. It also makes the cooking process more relaxed – you aren’t trying to chop your kale while stirring to keep the onions from scorching.
Putting each component into its own little bowl like a TV chef looks cool but it makes a LOT of extra dishes! I have little piles of chopped veggies around the cutting board. Large volume components that aren’t dangerous uncooked (i.e. the kale here), I put in one of the bowls I’ll use to serve dinner. If my meal has a few flakes of uncooked kale and Anya has a few extra shreds of Parmesan cheese … not the end of the world. Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, remain in the strainer. Pasta bag opened but sitting upright on the counter.
Cook’s Country One Pot Sausage, Kale and White Bean – Vegetarian Modification
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 roasted garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian spices
6 cups vegetable stock
16 oz orecchiette
12 oz chopped kale
1 oz Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper
1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and beans and cook until onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Stir in pasta and half of the kale. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 8 minutes. Add remaining kale on top of pasta, without stirring, and continue to cook until kale is just tender, about 4 more minutes.
3. Stir to incorporate kale into pasta. Simmer uncovered until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta is cooked, 4 to 8 more minutes. Off the heat, stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.