Friday, November 11, 2016

Well, It's Over

Monday, November 7, 2016
I am very skeptical about driverless cars.  Granted, taking the wheel away from myriad mouthbreathers should lower fatalities significantly, it will be easier said than done.  I started programming computers in 1969 and, even as I marveled at the remarkable progress made over the decades, I remained  aware of the errors emanating from computer systems whether laughable or lethal.  Not often, but I found myself telling a client that the system failure that she experienced in fact could not have happened.  

What if the delays downloading an episode of "Nurse Jackie" on Netflix also arise when your automated chariot is navigating the Long Island Expressway?  Beside the formidable concerns about errors, consider the problems associated with getting it right.  The article below discusses ethical considerations in designing a driverless system, specifically do you kill the driver and passengers in order to save even more people in another vehicle or on the sidewalk?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016
In spite of my background in information technology, at 7:00 this morning, even as I read the New York Times on my smartyphone, a combination of hardware and software that was inconceivable back in the day, I was anxious to get my hands on the printed newspaper, whose delivery was delayed.  Even though the on-line version offers features, such as hyperlinks and interactive graphics, that a two-dimensional hard copy could never approach, I derive satisfaction/comfort/reassurance from clutching the newspaper.  With the criticality of the day's pending events, this feeling is even greater.  Information actually in hand seems to carry more weight than the ephemeral mixture of electrons and pixels flashing on our screens.

The Palazzo di Gotthelf is no more than 1/4 mile from the finish line of the New York City Marathon, so I was not surprised to see people walking around the neighborhood yesterday wearing the bronze medal awarded to all finishers on Sunday.  Today, when I walked to the theater district, the sight of successful runners, at least those advertising their success, was a bit off putting at first, like enough already.   But, I quickly realized that these folks did something I never did, never contemplated doing, and never will do.  When I was a semi-athletic kid, I showed some skills, but I didn't run.  I played first base on a baseball team, pitched on a softball team, was a lineman and a quarterback on football teams.  Generally, nothing more than a long stride was needed at any time.  So, hats off to you who came from near and far (a guy from Perth, Australia took 33 hours to get here, arriving not long before the start of the race) to run 26 miles through the streets of New York.  If I ever did that, I know that I would wear my medal day and night until the ribbon rotted.  

On my walk, I stopped for lunch at the Afghan Kebab House #1, 764 Ninth Avenue, owned by a former royal chef, who fled the country in 1979.  It's a narrow joint, holding 13 tables, almost evenly divided between two and four tops.  It does not resemble a war zone.  Oriental rugs hang on the walls along with that famous photograph of the striking young woman on the cover of National Geographic.  

She was my only company when I sat down near 1 PM and only two other customers came while I was there.  I ordered Kabuli Palow, nine small chunks of grilled lamb atop brown rice mixed with sliced almonds, raisins, and carrots ($18).  The meat was freshly cooked and the dish was given a zest by squeezes from the bottles of white (dilly yoghurt), green (sweet pesto) and red (hot pepper) sauce on the table.  The salad greens on the side were tired. 

In all, Afghan Kebab House #1 is not a bad choice if you want to sit down and be served, instead of standing on the sidewalk ordering from one of the many Halal carts offering tasty chicken and mystery meat cooked with onions and spices for $5/6.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2016
We turned the clock back too far, I fear.  It seems that a lot of people prefer fascism to feminism.  

By the way, it is 8:45 AM and the newspaper has not yet been delivered.  Is that an act of mercy?

My friend Lyn Dobrin has started a petition calling for the presidency to be decided by popular vote alone.  Take a look.   By the way, it makes a big difference.

Thursday,  November 10, 2016
What I learned from the election: Lying is the new black. 

Not all the election results were dreary.  "Voters in San Diego County on Tuesday soundly rejected a referendum that would have steered hundreds of millions of tax dollars toward a stadium the [NFL] team wanted to build in downtown San Diego."

The Boyz Club met today at Jing Fong, 20 Elizabeth Street, the reliable, cavernous dim sum establishment.  These are just the people that you want and need to surround you at this crazy time.  Educated, articulate, caring, broad-minded, they deal openly with issues that may touch sensitive emotional and ideological nerves.  Today, we discussed adopting a pet, pie vs. cake, and favorite beaches.  No holds were barred.

Friday, November 11, 2016
DT's supporters often said,"He tells it like it is."  I think that this is a comment about style, not substance.  It's not so much what "it" is, but rather how he talks about "it".  He peddles exasperation.

About driverless cars:   Would you put your life in the hands of data modeling technology that predicted an overwhelming victory for Hillary Clinton?


  1. 1) I wouldn't put my life in the hands of data modeling technology that predicted a 3-4% win for Hillary, which is more like what it predicted, instead of the actual 2% "win" for her; and
    2) For those of you who are not members of the Boyz Club, you need to take Alan's description of the conversation with several gallons of soy sauce...