Thursday, December 13, 2018

There's a box back there, a stranger tells me from his car

This morning, while walking Tobzilla along a main interior road, a man in his twenties drove his white car out of a rotary in my direction in the far lane.  I only took a glance at this vehicle, then diverted my attention back to the act of walking my dog.

Hmmm, I get a weird feeling, so I look back at the now slowing white car.  The man has his window down and seems as though he's trying to get my attention.  When we make eye contact, he announces to me, "There's a box back there", as he points off into the distance behind his car.

Without missing a beat, I yell back, "Alright!" in a tone that suggests ambivalent interest.  The man appears to be satisfied that he dutifully notified someone of this extremely important information.  He drives on his way.

He has indeed accomplished his mission, as I'm mildly curious regarding the presence of a box.  Is there something in the road that poses a risk to other drivers?  Is it a dropped package on the side of the road that was supposed to be delivered to a neighbor's home?  Why would this man be so concerned about a box "back there"?  

Remembering which way he had entered into the rotary, I turn around to walk in that direction to look for this mystery box.  Tobzilla resisted at first.  He knows our regular route.  After a brief protest, he relents to walk by my side.

I see nothing out-of-the-ordinary.  There's no box on this or that side of the road, nor within the lanes. Then, as I round the corner to walk down another street in the direction of my home, I see it.  I see the only thing out of place.  It's not a box.

It's a lonely shopping cart abandoned on the side of the road, across the street.  I look around with more intent to see if there was anything else even remotely nearby.  Nothing. 

Shopping cart
Now, a thought came into my head that may be a leap in logic, but not necessarily an illogical leap.  Was the object about which this man was so earnestly trying to warn me not a box at all?  Rather, was it this shopping cart?  If so, why would this guy care so much about something so innocuous?  Did he hit it with his vehicle?  Did he already move it out of the way?  Did he have a brainfart, referring to this cart as a box?  

I will never know.  After realizing there really was nothing of interest and no good-citizen task being demanded of me, I lead Tobzilla back home.  One thing is certain.  I am now in possession of a completely useless bit of information.  This is too heavy of a burden to bear on my own.  I must now share this goofy experience with the world.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Plural of the word "Octopus"? "Octopodes" of course! Well, kinda.

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Plural of the word "Octopus"? "Octopodes" of course! Well, kinda. Most people just say "Octopuses" and some others say "Octopi". Apparently, "Octopus" isof Greek origin, so use of "i" is supposedly incorrect, but "-odes" is correct. In English, we just add "-es" like everything else that ends in "-s". So, "Octopuses" it is!!!

Cacti, Cactuses and Cactus are all correct as plural for the word "Cactus". Same is not true for the word "Octopus".


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Saturday, November 24, 2018

Beary cake #cake #bear #bearcake #parisbaguette #pastry #sweetbearcake #cupertino #cupertinoeats #cupertinoca #norcal #California #southbay #southsanfranciscobay #bayarea #siliconvalley #beareyes #eyes #food #foodporn

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Thursday, November 22, 2018

And five minutes later, this... city deer looking for a parking place?


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Someone's idea of #PublicArt #art #painting #utilityboxart #utilitybox #belmont #belmontca #SanFranciscopeninsula #peninsula #SanFranciscobayarea #bayarea #norcal #California #phototakenfromacar #phototakenfrommycar #takenfromacar #takenfrommycar


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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

#PalmTree #reflection #car #rearwindow #🌲 #tree #palm #automobiles


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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Delicious Korean Barbecue @ Hansun BBQ


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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

We are all lying to ourselves


"On any given day, 80% of us are lying to ourselves about lying to ourselves", Tasha Eurich

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Machine Learning is artificial, but it's not necessarily intelligent

Machine Learning is "artificial", but it's not really intelligent from a certain point of view. There appears to be a trend going on in the industry right now that uses the terms "Machine Learning" and "Artificial Intelligence" interchangeably (or at least sees Machine Learning is a type of AI).

Intelligence is the often measured as the ability to see connections between different things.  Machine Learning doesn't see connections.  It just uses CPU time for brute-force analysis to find connections based on many iterative cycles of failures and successes in stages.  Early failures are often permanently disregarded, and early successes given too much value, even if they follow deadend paths . Machine Learning typically is not able to see that future success could actually come from pathways where it experienced early failure, unless there is human intervention of some sort.

This video should scare all of us, and not because of the wolves


Amazon learned a similar lesson on its own regarding Machine Learning, as detailed in the following venturebeat.com article. The article describes how Amazon had to scrap their Machine Learning program for hiring people. The program's purpose was to remove gender bias in hiring of new employees. However, their program developed gender bias on its own, despite the development team's best efforts to remove bias. Article: Amazon scrapped a secret AI recruitment tool that showed bias against women.

This article on Volt DB (6 Reasons Why Your Machine Learning Project Will Fail to Get Into Production) goes into common problems with Machine Learning projects. It boils down to data quality. The problem is, data from the real world will always be of poor quality.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

South Dakota v. Wayfair Supreme Court ruling on interstate sales tax seems to be based on wishful thinking


In the recent case of South Dakota v. Wayfair, et al, the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution has been redefined by the Supreme to remove prohibitions on states to collect sales tax on interstate transactions where the buyer is within their state. I am thoroughly suprized by this ruling, as it overturns long held understanding of Commerce Clause. As best as I can tell from reading the ruling, it's based on the same touchy-feelingly arguments that have been pervasive among the states about "losing money" and "the Internet changes everything". The decision takes for granted that money must be owed just because their is a transaction and the state has a sales tax. The ruling dismisses the very real challenge for small business who now have to deal with the burden of over 5000 tax jurisdictions. The ruling simply lemented an edge-case consequence of the previous ruling rather than allowing Congress to address the edge-case through legislation.

In an effort to level the playing field, Supreme Court created a whole new unlevel field on a much larger scale. The ruling also goes into a state's sovereign power, but it ignores the fact that this ruling is at the expense of every states' sovereign power being eroded, as now one state can tax another state's business directly. Since a sale tax is a tax, does this now mean one state can tax the income of a business in other state for the money earned on the transactions within their borders?  This would seem to further level the playing flat so that businesses in other states experience the same double taxation that businesses within the state experience already. [sarc]

This ruling also fully legitimizes Use Taxes, where the individual person must pay the sales tax directly to the state (rather than the business doing the collection), even though the transaction occurs in other state, like when you drive across state lines to buy something, then bring it back home.


Based on this ruling, states should not only have a right to tax transactions that occur outside of their state, but they should be able to tax transactions that occur in foreign countries now too. Additionally, since the Indian Tribes are specifically mentioned in the Commerce Clause, do they now have the right to tax businesses in the same new manner as now granted to the states, taxing businesses anywhere in the country (or the world)? This is going to be an annoying twenty or so years while the lower courts sort out this mess unless we can get Congress to enact something that addresses everyone's concerns. Since this is specifically an interstate commerce issue, Congress does have the right to set up a system that solves these problems and addresses states', comsumers' and business' needs.

For me the SCOTUS arguments are not convincing, based on wishing to make things fair by legislating from the bench without working through the consequences. I find myself agreeing with Justice Roberts' dissenting view. There were issues with the previous rules, but we've thrown out the baby with the bathwater (my words).


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Ruling text, with pro and con arguments by SCOTUS: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/17-494_j4el.pdf