Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The Mystery of the Wonton Killer

We are funny little ape shaped bugs, floating along with a tiny dust mote like Whos in Whoville. We would like to think there are other Whos or who-shaped beings out in the cosmos, but it could be we are it, or it for around in this here light cone. In which case, what? Nihilism? 

Of course we Whos could invent someone to keep us company? 

End of the Anthropocene.

Beginning of the Mechanozoic.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Where The Wild Things Aren't

100 years seems like a long time, but it isn't. In my own brain I have stories told me from that time. One hundred years ago is 1922. The beginning of the Modern age. Electrification.

If I had a time machine, I could snatch someone from 1922 and bring them here. They would be able to figure stuff out. Oh, a TV! Computer, a little more explaining. But then, they exclaim, oh shows and games! Why, you must never get bored!

We can safely bring someone from 1922, but 1822, two hundred years back? They are gonna be spooked by stuff, and some might get used to it. And so on into the past.

The one thing my time heist kidnap victim wll not forgive me for, the thing that will make them weep, is how barren and badly mangled we have made the Earth. In terms of sheer killing things off, 1922 was trying its darnedest, but the planet was a lush paradise compared to our poverty of today. Whole ecosystems gone, other teetering on the brink. 

We live in squalid hovels thinking them noble palaces. It is because we are now (and have been since 4/23/1978) * a force of Nature.

Humans have tamed a lot of things, but we, despite having a seat at the table, still do not have dominion.

Take the unsettling but charming videos of people with tame big cats. Lions, tigers, leopards. Yes, it is nice that big cats are cats, but I really think big cats should be eating people. 

I understand animals can be friends. I understand humans have shaped the world since the taming of fire. But this sterile land that these animals are now stuck in with us, in this human snowglobe.

Outside that dome, in the red zone, mass slaughter, done by us. We have to stop killing shit. That is step one. Will we? Or will we continue to be as dumb as bacteria in a peach tree dish?

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Art Making

I am still beta testing OpenAI's DALL E 2, the text-to-image generator. This result from the phrase "sugar skull spider, digital art".

Sometimes I'll do my own virtual reality render of the results, like this one in Adobe Medium:

I'm also back on the bronze casting. This one is entitled "Mister Potato Chip and Friends". None of the pieces would stand so I welded them together. The thicknesses of metal vary, so the welds are not great but solid. Weld quality also suffered from poor eyesight.

I have about fifty figures like this in the 1/10th scale, and these will be added to the ongoing piece, Grandpa's Funeral.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Cannon Fodder

I'm a slob. I wish I'd been more orderly and methodical in constructing my memory hut. Instead it is strewn with clothes and papers and half started gadgets and boring stories just like in real life. But that's what google is for, right? I blog in google. I am vertically integrated into this animal, because it is the meanest and most evil thing on the planet. Evil as in its a fucking verb. And I am an ally.

RW 4/22/2010 Entry Death By Plastic 

The Carlin Conjecture is that the Earth wanted plastic. 

Stripped of teleology, George Carlin's hypothesis is valid. Humans are great distillery bees. Metals. Glass. Plutonium. Liquid Helium. Plug 'n play RNA. Plastics.

Plastics. Forever chemicals. Mutagens and carcinogens. Even the rain is deadly now.
But hang on. This isn't the first time the rain was toxic or living on Earth wasn't deadly. Life was set up to handle radiation and poisons and toxins of a younger, fiercer universe. 

(Sol is the middle child of population II stars with enough metallicity to form solid planets. That's 7 billion years back, (No planets in Pop I stars? Maybe lithium. Maybe boron. Not enough carbon for our kind of life)).

Again, stripped of teleology, Carlin presents an elegant solution of just enough product killing off or slowing down producers. This is a command economy strategy which we learned from microbes. 

The current problem points out the rich/poor divide. Rich people can afford to filter water, while the poor get by without. Do the poor get more fatty liver disease? Do the rich enjoy unscathed or are some disasters democratic? 

Anyway, new bronzes finished just this week. I need to make larger than life. That requires monies I do not have access to. Anyway, Mama's Little Angel, and 

Mama's Little Angel

Super Friends

Super Friends

I did a VR kitbash/sculpt from memory of Super Friends, which, it from bit, is instead called Superfriends.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Thor: Love and Thunder

To the critics: It's a comic book movie. Any story beyond the ride is gravy. To One Million Moms: the two dads holding hands over lava to make a kid homo rock creatures? They're made up. Humorous fictions.

This movie, to dorks like me? To geeks like me?  It's fun, funny, has a tug at your heart moments. It's ham-handed like Thor himself, but with character development. To a satisfying larger story which I assume is Thor 5. 

I wouldn't be surprised if they have Thor 5 made.

What do we know at the end of Thor 4? Thor has a daughter. She calls him Uncle Thor. 

An uncle is a dad on standby. Thor has learned how to be a dad. Honestly, if you are age 25 or older, and also had a kid, you get it.  I don't get it, so I'm at best a father figure. I imagine, as a real father, you know you had a great and scary adventure ahead. You as parent, parent figure, mentor, banker, advocate, pirate. Space viking.

Anyway, Thor 5, we know Hercules is coming after Thor. We know Thor will befriend him, because that is Thor's real superpower. Love, his bench daughter, tasks his love to make him (and her) kinder and more patient. Thor is going to die. Original Thor so he and Natalie Portman can live in Valhalla.

Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor should get her own movie, but she's in Valhalla now. It makes me wonder if I were worthy of the hammer? I would be Sarcastic Thor. Sarcasm. Every planet would hate me. No planet would want me around.

The other concern I have about the MCU universe is my disturbing parallel with fiction. Thor loses a right eye. I lose a right eye. Valkyrie loses a left kidney. I lost a left kidney. Marvel writers, please stop carving me up.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Who put the hype in hypersonic?

Editors Note: it is the 4th of July 2022. My window is open and the war zone is open for business as well. Followed eventually by the sound of ambulances and fire trucks. 15 miles away from me in the affluent suburb of Highland Park, a shooter killed 6 and wounded 30 up at a 4th of July parade. Right there in the green zone. No one is safe now, was the message. Buy More Guns was the message.  


'National pride is at stake' crows the Science article about the race to develop hypersonic weapons. From the article:

For decades, the U.S. military—and its adversaries—have coveted missiles that travel at hypersonic speed, generally defined as Mach 5 or greater. Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) meet that definition when they re-enter the atmosphere from space. But because they arc along a predictable ballistic path, like a bullet, they lack the element of surprise. In contrast, hypersonic weapons such as China's waverider maneuver aerodynamically, enabling them to dodge defenses and keep an adversary guessing about the target.

The worry being these hypersonic demons are unstoppable. But for a great majority of the time even the predictable ballistic path missile have been unstoppable. There have been gains in anti-missile technology to worry missileers, but certainly much cheaper alternatives to hypersonic flight exist, and one has to assume there are larger reasons to pursue it. Again from the article:

Now, DOD is leading a new charge, pouring more than $1 billion annually into hypersonic research. Competition from ambitious programs in China and Russia is a key motivator. Although hype and secrecy muddy the picture, all three nations appear to have made substantial progress in overcoming key obstacles, such as protecting hypersonic craft from savage frictional heating. Russia recently unveiled a weapon called the Kinzhal, said to reach Mach 10 under its own power, and another that is boosted by a rocket to an astonishing Mach 27. China showed off a rocket-boosted hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) of its own, the Dongfeng-17, in a recent military parade. The United States, meanwhile, is testing several hypersonic weapons. "It's a race to the Moon sort of thing," says Iain Boyd, an aerospace engineer at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "National pride is at stake."

So, simple answer, space war butthead stuff. Not to be dismissive. The tech is fascinating. The tech is finally melding and all the niches for spaceflight are starting to mature. But just to hurl nukes? No dearie dear. Why build a cathedral and use it as a battering ram? My guess is there's a lot more to the Air Force X47-B space plane program than meets the eye. Lots and lots of stuff, not to mention all the Shuttle flights. The USA plays Aw Shucks almost as often as the game of Catch Up. 

And guess what? It is still rocket science. One hundred years on from the Wright brothers and it is still hard stuff to do. 

Everybody is worried about Russia and China when they shouldn't count out Iran. Or India or Pakistan for that matter. We may be looking at Space War One (or Two? I don't know).

It's just more monkey hive honey spent on space monkey hives that will never happen and instead we get a sky full of warbots.

If so, I want a swarm of warbots working for me. 

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Spoofing and Jinking

My brother went to see Top Gun: Maverick and said it was stupid but fun, like all good propaganda. 

The original Top Gun (which I also have never seen) was also propaganda which resulted in a huge recruitment boost for the United States Navy. The one thing my brother objected to (other than the hypersonic bullshit - of which I could write a separate essay called the Hype in Hypersonic) was the avoidance of a drone subplot. Possibly because tiny Tom Cruise would be sky burgers after about twenty seconds against a drone. Let's face it, unlike fighter drones, Tom Cruise cannot handle sustained 9 gee acceleration and look both ways at the same time. He cannot think a million times faster than a human.

Not to make too much of drones. Like hypersonic weapons, they suffer from design flaws and the biggest flaw is the machine intelligence itself. It's damn hard to audit a machine intelligence and the data it learns from. It's damn hard to know how it is doing what it is doing other than empirica evidence. This is nto a good situation. There have been numerous reports of bias introduced into these little critters (the classic example is how an AI chatbot was corrupted into a racist, sexist troll after being exposed to Twitter) and invariably the fault lies with the training data. Garbage in, garbage out.

One example is to attack machine learning training by re-ordering the sequence of training data. This is because ML models are susceptible to "initialization bias" (paging Kahneman and Tversky). Whatever data they receive first has a profound impact on the overall weighting of subsequent data.

Worse still, evidence is mounting that validating an ML model can be made impossible by planting an udectectable backdoor into the training data. Such a backdoor can change the classification of any input wihout detection by a tester - unless they are in possession of a "backdoor key". The mechanism is undetectable by any computationally bound observer, meaning you can't even tell if a backdoor was implanted into the model. That's pretty scary. Rather like the Manchurian Candidate, the thing itself doesn't know it is corrupted.

There are plenty of examples of how poison data makes ML baby Jesus cry, but for your entertainment, read this Pluralistic entry from Cory Doctorow. My favorite is  where a 2" piece of tape on a road sign can trigger 50mph accelerations in Tesla autopilots.

Other thing: I've had, hopefully, the last operation on my eye for the year. The retina had completely detached and my eye received essentially a boob job. The vitreous humor was removed and replaced (after the retina was re-attached with a laser) with silicone oil. The eye would have withered and died with the retina detached, So, the eye is saved, the vision is lost, and I'm good to go.

To mess with people, I published this aftermath photo, which is fake: