Friday, September 14

Artificial intelligence: Difference Engine: Luddite legacy

An interesting article son. Something that you need to read carefully about your career prospects. Keep on thinking if you skills and abilities can be replaced by a computer. Do and pick a career which requires things which a computer cannot do. Manage ambiguity. Need imagination. Think differently. Sales. Change management. Inventing new things. 



Artificial intelligence: Difference Engine: Luddite legacy | The Economist

AN APOCRYPHAL tale is told about Henry Ford II showing Walter Reuther, the veteran leader of the United Automobile Workers, around a newly automated car plant. “Walter, how are you going to get those robots to pay your union dues,” gibed the boss of Ford Motor Company. Without skipping a beat, Reuther replied, “Henry, how are you going to get them to buy your cars?”Whether the exchange was true or not is irrelevant. The point was that any increase in productivity required a corresponding increase in the number of consumers capable of buying the product. The original Henry Ford, committed to raising productivity and lowering prices remorselessly, appreciated this profoundly—and insisted on paying his workers twice the going rate, so they could afford to buy his cars.
For the company, there was an added bonus. By offering an unprecedented $5 a day in 1914, he caused the best tool-makers and machinists in America to flock to Ford. The know-how they brought boosted production efficiency still further and made Ford cars ever more affordable. With its ingenious Model T, Ford became the first car company in the world to bring motoring to the masses.

Economists see this as a classic example of how advancing technology, in the form of automation and innovation, increases productivity. This, in turn, causes prices to fall, demand to rise, more workers to be hired, and the economy to grow. Such thinking has been one of the tenets of economics since the early 1800s, when hosiery and lace-makers in Nottingham—inspired by Ned Ludd, a legendary hero of the English proletariat—smashed the mechanical knitting looms being introduced at the time for fear of losing their jobs.

Thursday, September 13

This Is My Brain on Chantix

An interesting story of what happens when you take drugs. As you know, I used to smoke and then after using the patch, I left smoking. It's been now what 5 years? One of the worst mistakes in my life, smoking. Even now, I cannot bear being around smokers, mainly because I'm afraid I will start again. Addiction is bad, son. 

But also remember we are bio chemical animals. And when we go off the rails and are ill, chemicals are poured into us. In a way, that is worrisome because it's far too easy to pop pills. So my advise is to not take pills as much as possible and rely on diet and exercise. 

And never ever do drugs. Besides the fact that I will personally break your legs and Lock you into your room till you break your addiction, you don't need drugs to have fun or feel better. Drugs are for losers, nothing justifies it. Fun, creativity, joy all can and will be done by the power of your mind. And stay away from People who do drugs. They will not only screw up their lives but also yours. 



This Is My Brain on Chantix []

I’d heard it was the most effective stop-smoking drug yet. So I took it. Then those reports of suicidal ideation began washing in.


Things were looking good. My doctor had gone through the test results and told me I was perfectly healthy—except my breathing was a little shallow. That didn’t surprise me. I’d been smoking for twelve of my 32 years, and my father died of lung cancer in his early fifties. That’s why I was having my first physical in five years: I’d decided it was time to stop for good.

I’d heard about Chantix, a relatively new drug from Pfizer that blocks nicotine from attaching to your brain receptors. That way, you stop receiving any pleasure from cigarettes at all—even as the drug, snuggling up to those receptors the same way nicotine does, reduces withdrawal cravings and unleashes a happy little wash of dopamine to boot. Wonderful things they can do nowadays.

My doctor wished me luck as he wrote out the prescription, telling me it was the single most important decision I’d ever make in my life. I had the medication that night, 35 minutes after dropping into Duane Reade. While waiting, I gleefully chain-smoked Parliament Lights. One of Chantix’s big perks is that you can smoke for the first seven days you’re on it (most people take it for twelve weeks)—more than enough time, I thought, to say good-bye to an old friend.

I swallowed my first pill the next day before work. It was a beautiful fall morning, an almost obnoxiously cinematic day to turn over a new leaf. But by the time I was halfway to the office, I started to feel a slight nausea coming on. Of course, that is a common side effect, as are constipation, gas, vomiting, and changes in dreaming. These five symptoms were emblazoned in a large font on the patient-information sheet.

My stomach settled as I finished my first cup of coffee. I slipped into my boss’s office, proudly announcing that I’d just started taking Chantix. “You’ve probably seen the commercial,” I said. A CGI tortoise races against a sprightly CGI hare, while a paternal voice-over reminds us that quitting smoking “isn’t for sprinters … it’s all about getting there!” Clinical trials demonstrated a whopping 44 percent of patients were still off cigarettes after twelve weeks, the ad says. The tortoise winks knowingly.

“You know, I saw something about Chantix,” my boss said, sounding vaguely concerned. He tracked down the story on a CBS Website. It was a sensational report on Carter Albrecht, a Dallas musician formerly with Edie Brickell & New Bohemians. Albrecht had started taking Chantix with his fiancée, with seemingly dramatic side effects. She claimed he had had bizarre hallucinations that worsened when he drank. One evening, he attacked her, something he’d never done before. He then ran to his neighbor’s house and kicked at the door, screaming incomprehensibly. The neighbor was so panicked he wound up shooting Albrecht through the door, killing him.

Wednesday, September 12

A tale of two checkpoints

I loved this and I am going to quote this in full. It is my firm belief that as soon as people start talking about Israel, their brains dribble out of their bottoms (myself included). That’s why I have stopped talking about Palestine and Israel. You see somebody facebooking or emailing about Palestine and Israel and you want to respond? and you immediately should think about how the next few relevant minutes will never return to you in any shape or form in productive use. Plus usually these people are idiots. See below.

From Egypt Independent:

Anonymous gunmen attacked the Rayesa checkpoint outside Arish in Sinai on Friday morning, the 34th such attack in the last 19 months.
Security forces exchanged fire with the assailants, who fled. There were no injuries.
The troops combed the surrounding areas, in addition to inspecting the passing cars and questioning their occupants.
Rayesa checkpoint has been attacked 34 times since the beginning of the 25 January revolution, most recently on 31 August.
The checkpoint is located on the international road leading to Rafah at the east entrance of Arish. It is manned by joint forces of the police and Armed Forces.
A number of checkpoints in Sinai were targeted in August. Egyptian authorities have speculated that radical groups are behind these attacks.
Checkpoints? You mean, where the military checks to make sure that people aren't transporting weapons and explosives?
Aren't they, like, violations of international humanitarian law or UN resolutions or something?
I was so sure that checkpoints are illegal and immoral. Terrorists must have the right to freely travel to their intended targets.  It's a human right. And people being forced to add extra minutes to their trips in order for their cars to be checked for guns and explosives is a heinous crime. I know I've read that somewhere.
Ah -
here's one place, lightly edited:
Checkpoints: A Violation of Human Rights
Sky McLaughlin
...The very concept of the checkpoint itself stands in gross violation of the human rights of the people. Each human being should be guaranteed the right to emotional and psychological health and security. However the symbolism of these checkpoints has severe psychological repercussions on the people. The implication is that citizens are entirely too dangerous and evil to be allowed the freedom of movement in their own country, or their neighbour’s. The damaging impacts on the psyche, not to mention self-esteem, particularly of young people, are tremendous.
Freedom of movement and the right to physical safety are just two of the fundamental human rights violated by the checkpoints. People are not free to travel from region to region in their own country, and this has far-reaching effects on the relations of the family. Families are split and divided, and cannot join together to provide emotional support and comfort during this time of tragedy and suffering. Fear has become a permanent part of their psyche, as they constantly worry about the time when there may be an emergency in their family, whom they cannot reach in time.
See? I knew that human rights activists were against all checkpoints, everywhere.
Good thing those activists in Egypt are attacking them by gunfire. They are the true human rights defenders.

Tuesday, September 11

The End of Cheap Coffee


People can get very snobbish about coffees. Like I get about scotch whiskey. Or book reading. I suppose son, Everybody has something that they care about. So we have an interesting phenomena. For me, people going nuts about coffee or wine are just strange. But then I'm sure people think I'm nuts about books. 

Still, you need to read this. Know what people are being snobbish about. At some point this information may come in use, when you are trying to impress a girl, or tell some snobs that they are talking out of their backsides. 


The End of Cheap Coffee []

Coffee, Starbucks, GOOD 025, The Next Big Thing
On a rainy Wednesday afternoon in Venice, California, Dan Kougan spreads out three shot glasses in front of a curious audience. The champagne-colored liquid bubbling on the left is a homemade hops soda. The creamy, tan shot in the middle is a barley-chocolate malt topped with a tuft of steamed milk. And the chestnut-hued beverage on the right, the raison d’être of this whole ordeal, gives off the unmistakable scent of fresh espresso, extracted from the highest-quality coffee beans the developing world has to offer.

“Thanks, Dan, I’m really excited!” says Elaine Levia. She smiles as she eyes the Flight of Three—the name given to the triptych of shot glasses on the glass-top bar before her. “Do you have drinking instructions?” she asks.

Of course he does. For a month, Kougan has been planning the details of each beverage for his hops-themed menu. It’s his week to curate the Slow Bar, the backspace of the coffee shop Intelligentsia, where baristas take turns designing and executing a custom menu. The venue is part laboratory, part classroom, and part theater. Coffee groupies sit on bleacherlike benches in a precaffeinated state of awe, waiting for a barstool to open up.

Sip from lightest to darkest, instructs Kougan. “The hops will kind of ramp up in bitterness and effervescence. And then the chocolate malt will curb that flavor, and the espresso will take it back up.”

Levia complies. The coffee alchemy works its magic. “Absolutely phenomenal,” she says. As a fellow barista at the shop, she’s no stranger to the Slow Bar’s signature blend of high-quality espresso—from a refurbished 1972 La Marotta machine— and baroque flourishes. During her week as curator, Levia opted for a “vintage coffee experience,” pairing each brew with a different bite-sized pastry. “It turned into a focus on the drinkware, actually,” she admits. “I served Turkish coffee in Moka pots and tried to make it really, like, ’50s housewife style.” She laughs. “With Fiesta ware.” Another barista highlighted alternative milks—from macadamias, cashews, and Brazil nuts.

The idea of the Slow Bar is to “give the customer an experience that expands their idea of what coffee is,” says Charles Babinski, who trains the staff in different brewing techniques and hosts educational events for customers. It’s a place where customers can sit down and ask questions about coffee, but it’s “not meant to be beating people over the heads with education as much as just creating different coffee experiences.”

“Customer education” and “coffee experiences” are terms you hear a lot when talking to the roasters and baristas who make up the ultra-high-end coffee movement, a trend that’s been percolating for the past decade. If you visit a shop like Intelligentsia—or Blue Bottle in San Francisco or Stumptown in Portland or Third Rail Coffee in New York City—you’ll encounter a staff eager to discuss the distinct regional characteristics (or terroir) and flavor profile of each coffee on the menu, sourced from a handful of elite farms known as “microlots” in places like El Salvador, Kenya, and Indonesia. You’ll be encouraged to try a cup of lightly roasted, brewed coffee, which had become all but passé with the Starbucks-backed ascendancy of dark roasts, espressos, and lattes in the late 1990s. You’ll look on as a brewer takes several minutes to unleash a stream of boiling water from a silver kettle into a cone full of coffee grounds—the meticulous process behind every mug of individually brewed “pour over” coffee—to unlock the beverage’s most subtle flavors.

But perhaps the most memorable part of the experience comes at the register: a cool $5 for an unadorned cup of brewed coffee. And that’s if the bean is more common. This fall, a cup of Intelligentsia’s Kenya Tegu was selling for $6.50. “Ethereal and luminous,” a description on the company’s website reads. “Lychee, persimmon and botanical notes bring a weightlessness to the muscular and expansive Tegu. Marmalade and sweet herbs float in the background while the finish hangs onto a hint of spice.”

Monday, September 10

$5 Chess Game, Best-of-Three, Zuccotti Park


This isn't about the protests and stuff. That's strangely confusing and I couldn't figure out what the occupy lot are on about. 

But this is about getting hustled. I got hustled once in my life when I was in school. And it was the 3 cup and a ball trick. 

Very simple trick and I fell for it. Ended up losing a months pocket money on it. I was 2 years younger than you at that time. I felt like a complete idiot and still do. But it was a good learning experience. Here are some lessons that I learnt from it. 

If something is too good to be true then it most definitely is false. You will see these offers about getting rich quickly and those are invariably fake. 

Second, always know how much you are willing to lose. That's what I call as fuck off limits. You will lose money. On stocks, on purchases, on dates, on everything relating to money. Thats not a problem. The problem is when you don't have a stop loss limit. And stick to it. Have the discipline to walk away from extreme losses. Define decide dedicate. For example you are making losses in your portfolio but your excuse was that you don't want to lose on transaction fees. I told you to decide on your losses and select some other stocks. What that tells me is that you haven't learnt about your loss levels, you don't have your discipline to cut your losses and the fact that you missed the deadline means that you are still not at the level of dedication. So what are you going to do?

Final lesson learnt, there is no free money. The only money you can be proud of is what you earn through hard work son. Winning through crime or lotteries or gambling etc. etc. is sure to get you in disaster. But learn your figures, angles, your own abilities and characteristics. Rely on yourself to earn money, son. That's the way to have a peaceful nights sleep. Easy money ends up in tears. 



$5 Chess Game, Best-of-Three, Zuccotti Park []

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car horn is stuck and he’s mouthed “I’m sorry” three times already.

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Fading the Vig: A Gambler’s Guide to Life

- - - -

David Hill is a gambler. Each column will tell the story of a single bet that he made and examine what that bet reveals about life in America.

See all articles from this column

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$5 Chess Game,
Zuccotti Park.

BY David Hill

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It’s six in the morning in Zucotti Park. Quiet hours started at eleven, but that isn’t stopping the kid behind me from singing and playing Bob Dylan’s greatest hits on his guitar. I politely tolerate it until he starts to play “Rainy Day Women.” That cinches it.

“Knock it off, it’s quiet hours.”

I point to the sign nearby that lays out the self-mandated rules about music. He scowls at me as he puts his guitar back in its case.

I’m usually more patient than this. Maybe I’m feeling punchy because in two hours the police are supposed to show up and arrest all of us. More likely it has to do with the fact that I’m down two pawns going in to the endgame.

“Sorry, man, but this is a money game,” is all the apology I can muster. I have to focus.

It looks bad now, but you should have seen me earlier. I got here around three, right after the rainstorm quit, after getting several emails and text messages that the cops were planning to storm the park at seven. I packed my bag with extra clothes and some comic books, wrote the National Lawyer’s Guild phone number on my arm, kissed my wife on the forehead and told her I was going to go get arrested at the park. She mumbled something like “good luck” and rolled back over to sleep.

When I arrived at the park people were trying to settle in and get some rest. It had been a rough night of rain that likely kept a lot of people who were planning to help occupy the park away. There were only a couple hundred people here, drying off, straightening up, and winding down.

I walked over to the chess table. Bystanders held their cell phones over the table to offer the players some light. I watched a game between an Eastern European student with a backpack and a young Middle Eastern man in a baseball cap. One glance at their position told me these guys were patzers. I asked them how much they were playing for.

“We aren’t gambling.”

No shit. I asked who has next; the onlookers all shook their heads. I sat down and played the Middle Eastern kid and end up holding the table for the next couple of hours. I’m no chess master. My last rated game had me around 1450. But tonight I was king of the park. It isn’t saying much. This is no Washington Square Park. The players in Zuccotti Park are an embarrassment to the lumpenproletariat park-dwellers of New York City. Then James showed up.

James was a young Puerto Rican guy from the Bronx. He worked for the MTA, a member of TWU Local 100. He had on a 59fifty Yankees cap, a grey hoodie and a backpack. He was polite and pleasant. Like me he had a wife and baby at home. He kept texting his wife to let her know he was still okay and not in jail. He told me he was “a little rusty.” I beat him pretty easily in our first game. I even let him take back a few moves. I felt like a goddamn grandmaster. Then he brought me back down to earth with one question.

“You want to play for money?”

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“So you’re a hustler?”