Artificial (non) Intelligence

I was at Wal*Mart in Columbia City today with my mom, and we picked up a box of Zeiss Wipes, looked at them, realized that wasn’t what we were looking for, and put them back. And when I got home and opened up Facebook this ad was in my feed.

I don’t know what bothers me more, the creepy stalking by Wal*Mart or sheep-like belief by advertisers that this sort of “big data – A.I. – targeted marketing” works.

Let me spell it out for you Wal*Mart, you’re wasting your money, I’ve never bought any brand of lens wipes and I’m unlikely to ever buy lens wipes. Get the message?

I’ve never clicked on an online ad and so obviously I’ve never purchased anything from doing so. Maybe you targeted marketing chimps[1] could factor that into your algorithms. Oh wait, that would cut into your revenue. Don’t do that, it’s all about how much money you can generate, that’s the only measure that matters[2].

And if that isn’t clear enough for you, I never, ever, willingly shop at Wal*Mart[3]. You are a disgusting blight on our community. Go away, shoo, shoo!

1. These chimps are software developers. I’ve written software, boy and man, since 1982. These chimps are my professional brothers and sisters. My siblings? I’m ashamed of you.

And for what? For a little bit of money. There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’t you know that? And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day. Well, I just don’t understand it.
— Marge Gunderson’s soliloquy in the movie Fargo.

2. “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil.” – 1 Timothy 6:10. Or as a latter day prophet, Sir Albert Howard, put it “the cursed thirst for profit is at the root of the mischief.”

3. I did buy groceries at Meijer for a while, but I couldn’t shake the unclean feeling. It’s a horrible soulless place, sucking the life out of the community. I don’t care if they do stock Edwin Coe products.

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Ain’t Gonna Study War No More

This ad has been running on TV this fall. The Army as a POV video game. Those aren’t human beings on the other side of your point of view, they’re “challenges.”

We’re not “fighting for honor”, we’re not “fighting for country”. We are fighting to win battles as pointless as a video game and the dead, crippled, and maimed suffered and suffer for no reason.

I reject this glorification of the military.

And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples;
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war.

Isaiah 2:4

Any question on how He will judge us?

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Playing the Odds

We’re about to chow down on romaine[1], the leafy greens of death.

Leafy Green Death

I understand statistics, so I eat romaine and I don’t play the lottery[2]. My chances of getting sick, or winning the lottery, are vanishingly small.

1. The internet has been atwitter about 58 people have been sickened, possibly by contaminated romaine lettuce. If you do the math your odds of getting bad romaine are no worse than 1 in 1 million. By comparison, your odds of dying (not just getting violently ill) in an automobile are over 100 in a million. If you want to stay healthy eat your greens and stay off the roads.

2. The internet (and the statistically challenged) have also been atwitter over the $500 million plus Powerball jackpot. Odds, 1 in 292 million.

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My g-g-g-generation

Fort Wayne used to have two newspapers. The News-Sentinel, the Republican newspaper, published in the afternoon, and the Journal-Gazette, the Democratic newspaper, published in the morning. Both were managed by the same parent company, Fort Wayne Newspapers.

I used to get both, but back in the late 1990’s when the Republican party went from being the party of small government and low taxes to the party of telling people who they could marry, xenophobia, and objectivism [1] I dropped the News-Sentinel because their editorial content had followed the party and had become too stupid to let into my house.

Fast forward to 2017 and the News-Sentinel has folded. Despite being in the reddest of red states, not enough people would buy it for them to be able to pay for paper and ink. So they stopped printing. But since they’re run by the same parent company, evidently the now unemployed and unemployable editors of the News-Sentinel needed work, so Fort Wayne Newspapers decided to include their opinion pieces in the Journal-Gazette.

Today they ran a piece by Kevin Leininger [2] about the woe that will befall us when the millennials come of age.

Will millennials’ views on God, economics threaten even Thanksgiving?

This piece of garbage will gag any thinking human being, so in the event you can’t get through it, let me summarize: the millennials, those born from the 1980’s through the early 2000’s, are godless socialists who are going to turn America into a Soviet gulag, or maybe even Sweden.

Well, Leininger can have his ignorance and his paranoia. I see a different a world.

I work in the computer biz, so I work with millennials every day. I’ve been working recently with high school kids doing a web design competition[3] .

Web Design Poster from TechFest

And the kids are all right. They bring such passion and enthusiasm to their work. These high schools kids do such good work it makes me embarrassed to remember what I did at their age.

And unlike Kevin Leininger they want the world to be a better place: healthier, cleaner, fairer, inclusive.

I’m 60 years old and getting ready to step off the stage, and I couldn’t be more pleased to hand it off to these kids.

1. I.e., they went off the rails on a crazy train.

Crazy, but that’s how it goes
Millions of people living as foes
Maybe it’s not too late
To learn how to love
And forget how to hate

Even Ozzy sounds wise compared to the Republican party these days.

2. A “pompous strutting blowhard” from reputable sources.

3. You can see my company’s logo in the bottom right of the poster. My boss, Linda Passmore, is the best and gave me time off to do this.

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4 Dead in Ohio

I’m the furthest thing in the world from a Trump apologist. He is a puerile, filthy, degenerate, incestuous pig, a national embarrassment and disgrace.

But I’m old enough to remember May 4th, 1970 when the National Guard (under another Republican embarrassment of a president) used automatic weapons [1] on protesting college students at Kent State, killing 4 of them.

Trump’s minor league compared to that.

1. I went on a live fire exercise once with the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg. This would’ve been 15 years ago at least. I’ve never heard anything as horrifying as a machine gun. It’s not “rat-a-tat-tat”, it’s a ripping noise as the hail of bullets tear the air apart. It gives me the creeps to this day. And to use that on rock throwing college students? Inexcusable.

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Sheep and Goats

Since I’m on a biblical tear here at I’ll offer up another one.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
– Matthew 25:31-46

Our so-called representatives [1] just passed a bill to take health insurance from the least in our country. Not for any good reason, just to score a few political points to pander to their base.

I guess we know who the goats are now.


Jim Banks (IN-03)

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Plowshares and Swords

On this Maundy Thursday, while that jackass occupying the White House and his sycophants spread violence and hate and it seems they are leading us down the road to a global holocaust, I found myself thinking of this verse:

And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.

— Isaiah 2:4

Thousands and thousands will die because we put weapons of mass destruction in the hands of this incompetent fool. As for me, I’ve laid down my sword and shield and I won’t study war. I won’t fight, and I won’t support or admire those who do.


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Not a Happy Place is a happy place for me. I write about what gives me joy. But there are times when I have to comment on things that upset me. This is one of those posts. If you don’t like that sort of thing feel free to stop reading now and check back later. I’ll be writing about happy things again soon.

Posts have been going around on Facebook about how we’re all in this together and we all need to support and respect the president. Using the previous 2 elections as an example, if Romney or McCain had won, I’d agree with that position. My political leanings are Democratic and while I disagreed with much of what Romney and McCain ran on, to use P.J. O’Rourke’s phrase, I thought they were wrong within normal parameters. I would’ve respectfully disagreed with their positions, but respected their presidency.

I do not however respect Donald Trump and I do not respect his presidency and I will not support him in any way.

His personal behavior is disgusting. Donald Trump is a pervert and a degenerate. Normal men, even coarse and vulgar men, do not talk about grabbing women by the pussy. They do not boast in print about adulterous affairs. They do not discuss their sexual attraction to their own daughter. His puerile attacks on those who criticize him are signs of a dangerous immaturity.

But does his reprehensible personal behavior disqualify him from being president? After all, by most measures Bill Clinton was both an effective president and behaved personally in a way that was repellent. Does that apply to Trump as well?

It does not. As aberrant as Trump’s personal behavior is, his political views are worse. He is a danger to our most basic freedoms. On the campaign trail, he has vowed to limit our freedom of speech and our freedom of religion. He vows to torture our enemies, jail his political opponents, and restart the nuclear arms race that even Ronald Reagan recognized was madness.

Our country is strong. I trust our system of checks and balances will prevent Trump from being successful in attacking our freedoms. But I will do what I can to help stop him. I just sent a donation to the ACLU, arguably the organization best prepared to block Trump’s attack on our freedoms, and I refuse to support, respect, or even acknowledge Trump’s presidency.

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Inauguration Day, 2017

It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.

Joseph Heller in Catch-22, published in 1961.

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Silent Night

It’s a quiet Saturday night at home. The first really cold night of the year. We have a fire going, Debbie and I are surfing online and reading books. The Wonder Dogs (Owen and Spenser) are sprawled out, happy just to be in the same room with us. [1]

And we’re chatting electronically with friends and family all across the country. We have within reach 2 phones, a tablet, 2 laptops, and a desktop. Depending on the chat medium and the recipients some or all of the devices call for attention with various chirps, whistles, and vibrations [2].

We can tell by the number of chirps, whistles, and vibrations who the message is for and generally what conversation it’s a continuation of. A different pattern of noises has us looking at each other and saying, “who’s that?”

In some ways it’s an annoyance, this constant electronic bleating. I wish these gadgets would be more like my GPS running watch who sits silently on the counter not making a sound. It just blinks its LED display hopefully, wanting to go out for a run but doesn’t presume to intrude otherwise.

But on the other hand it’s nice to be connected with loved ones near and far, and to sit and chat around the electronic hearth.

1. As they are almost every evening. Even so they’re just so happy that we’re all here together. It’s the Best Night Ever! There’s a lesson there.

2. I remember years ago writing a proposal for a system that included haptic sensors to alert the operators when something happened. It was such a cool and novel idea at the time, “cutting edge.” And now it’s just the background of an ordinary Saturday night.

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