post

Podcast #14: Replicating Machines

Lions and tigers and replicating machines, Oh My. Re-blogged from my Seeking Delphi™ blog.  (My other, more serious blog)

Seeking Delphi™

“The real problem is not whether machines think, but whether men do.”–B.F. Skinner

http://www.andertoons.com

Researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada have unveiled an ambitious project.  They are attempting to develop a 3D printer that can make copies of itself.  A replicating machine.  Why would anyone do something like that?  In a word: space.  It’s difficult, dangerous and expensive to launch mass of any kind into space.  If lunar and asteroid mining are ever to become a reality, let alone colonization of Mars, the ability to use materials in situ to construct many automata, from an initial compact package, would be paramount to affordability and perhaps even viability.  Is this possible?  No less a personage than  John von Neumann said that it is–and supposedly proved it mathematically.  What are the challenges, can we control them if we make them, and what happens if we can’t control them?  This is the…

View original post 143 more words

post

Coming Soon: Seeking Delphi, The Podcast.

Coming soon–like tomorrow–at http://www.seekingdelphi.com

Seeking Delphi™

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”–Thomas Jefferson

www.cartoonstock.com Used with permission http://www.cartoonstock.com
Used with permission

It’s not likely that Thomas Jefferson meant to disparage study of the past, it’s just, like Albert Einstein’s missive that imagination is more important than knowledge, he meant that it is our dreams of the future that enable us to build a better world.

I’ve been dreaming about the future since I was a kid.  Daydreaming, my parents would have said, and my wife certainly would say.  But that’s OK.  Somebody has to do it.  If humankind is going to survive the the challenges that lie ahead, somebody needs to be thinking further ahead than the next pay check, the next quarter’s profit, and the next election.   Let’s do it together.

On Seeking Delphi, the podcast, I’ll address many of the myriad uncertainties that lie ahead, some of them with existential…

View original post 23 more words

post

Time way in: 100,000 views!

“I sincerely believe blogging can save America.”– John Jay Hooker

Uh, I don’t think so.  Not only is blogging not saving America, but social media might actually be destroying it.   And promoting my blog on social media?  We won’t even discuss that.  But what I will discuss–and pound my chest about–is that just a few weeks after Millennium Conjecture’s 4th anniversary, it has passed the 100,000 hit mark.  Wow.  I know you didn’t see that coming, and I sure as hell didn’t.  And I’m willing to bet that not more than 97,000 of those views have come from immediate family and close friends.  After all, how many close friends and family do you think I could have?

In honor of this hallowed event,  here a is blast from the past.  It was by far my most viewed post.  Thanks to being “Freshly Pressed” by WordPress,  this post brought in over 1700 views and garnered 230 blogger “likes” on September 23, 2012–exactly four months to the day after my inaugural post.    And yes, it has been all downhill since then.

Anyway, thanks for all the views and likes–and if you are really a masochist, check out my new blog on futurist topics, Seeking Delphi™

 

Equations of Everyday Life #2: Inane Celebrity Memes

“You’re not famous until my mother has heard of you”–Jay Leno 

(Jay Leno graduated from Emerson College the same year I did.  Aren’t you unimpressed?)

Lindsay Lohan…Paris Hilton…Charlie Sheen…you just gotta follow these people to be “with it” in this day and age.  What I can’t figure out is exactly what “it” is. The nonsense involving these silly (do I dare say ridiculous?) excuses for humanity, and the speed with which their inane meme virality propagates throughout the internet and general mediasphere is stultifying.

 How do we quantify this vacuous tripe?  Quite obviously with:

The Index of Inane Celebrity Meme Virality

Get out your calculators folks, though the math on this one may require something more like a Cray supercomputer.   This process requires not one step, but three.

  1. Rate the inanity
  2. Compute the Virality Index
  3. Classify the virality using the Virality Classification Scale

Rating Inanity

This part is for those of you who—like many politicians—prefer fuzzy math.  In order to compute the virality of an inane celebrity meme, you first need to give it an inanity rating.  This, however, does not compute.  You need to estimate it by a process that could be seen as similar to the way we old folks were taught to compute square roots in days before electronic calculators.  You sort of have to zero in on it—surround it, using  a combination of whatever logic or intuition works for you.

Using a scale of 0 to 1.0, we rate the inanity based on how unusual, how cable newsworthy and, of course, how inane it appears to be.  Using the Lindsay Lohan example, let’s rate some real and imagined events.

Lindsay Lohan gets up in the morning and brushes her teeth (or not).  Probable rating=0  (probable rating because, again, there is some subjectivity here).

Lindsay Lohan gets busted for another probation violation.  Approximate rating=0.5 (This is fairly commonplace but due to media culpability still maintains some newsworthiness.  Also, the specific story behind the arrest may result in some adjustment up or down; the next item demonstrates this.)

Charlie Sheen stubs his toe on the curb of 34th Street in NYC, stumbles into oncoming traffic causing Lindsay Lohan to swerve her speeding Porsche through a display window at Macy’s, decapitating several mannequins, skidding across the retail floor and then crashing through a sidewall into a back room where she runs over Paris Hilton who was in the act of giving her boyfriend a you-know-what.  Absolute rating of 1.0.  This theory does not permit a rating higher than 1.0, but we’ll give this one a 1.0 with a star, meaning it also generates spontaneous orgasms in Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and every Fox News and CNN anchor past, present and future.  (Note that while coverage on Comedy Central will actually lampoon the coverage by the other networks, this will add even greater fuel to the viral fire than serious reporting).

Computing the Virality Index

Here comes the fun.

ξ = Φ(F+T)(µ-110)

Symbol key

ξ =Virality Index I chose that squiggly symbol because I think it looks like Kate Middleton mooning the paparazzi.

Φ =Inanity rating Aren’t those Greek thingies cool? This one is iota, as in “I don’t give one iota of a hoot about these nitwits”.

F= number of “friends” or “likes” on celebrity’s Facebook page

T= number of Twitter followers of the celebrity There is a reason they call it TWITter.

µ =the median IQ of the set whose members are F+T. For the uninitiated µ is the scientific symbol for micro.  How appropriate. (Can’t you just imagine those two sentences being uttered by Dr. Sheldon Cooper?)

To sum it up:

The virality index is the inanity rating multiplied by the combined number of Twitter and Facebook followers multiplied by what I call the vacuity index (median IQ of all followers minus 110).

Classify the Virality

For any chance at virality, the final Index number MUST be negative.  This works perfectly fine for most of the personalities discussed above.  If we are talking about Stephen Hawking, however, there is a better chance of finding virality in the singularity at the center of a black hole.

The classifications of virality are as follows

If ξ ≤  -100,000  minimally contagious

If ξ ≤  -500,000  highly contagious

If ξ ≤  -1 million  immutably viral

If ξ ≤  -10 million globally pandemic

If ξ ≤  -100 million worthy of hours of uninterrupted coverage on CNN and FOX News.

Still to be determined is the threshold at which Geraldo Rivera coverage kicks in.

So if we compute the Charlie Sheen meme virality index for the automobile accident scenario hypothesized above,  we multiply the inanity index of 1 times the combined number of his Twitter and Facebook followers (roughly 10.5 million, don’t worry about being exact, this is fuzzy math) times the vacuity index. We will estimate the latter for Sheehan as (100-110)= -10.  This may be generous but 100, after all, is the definition of median IQ.  This yields a score of -105 million.  If you compute and add to this the scores for Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan who were also involved in the scuffle,  the Index plunges much lower.  The New York Post would be sure to issue a special edition.

This leaves one unanswered question, however.  We now know how to compute the manner in which these viral memes are turned on.  But what determines how they are turned off?  As you would expect, I have the answer which I call the medialogical constant.  I will discuss this in the next Equations of Everyday Life post, which may or may not be published within your lifetime.

Images credit: Meme Center   All text in this post ©2012 Mark Sackler

 

post

Cosmic Quote#56

“Not only is there no god, but try getting a plumber on weekends.” — Woody Allen

Osteen memeI have a hunch this guy has no trouble getting a plumber.

post

Timeout: This is Not a Pipe

Winter Chill Rerun: Time for Something Warm…

The Millennium Conjectures™

“I am two with nature.”–Woody Allen

This is not a pipe The Treachery of Images, by Rene Magritte, 1928-29
Ceci n’est pas une pipe. This is not a pipe.

René Magritte’s message is rather unambiguous.  An image of a “thing” is not the thing itself.  But don’t worry, I’m not headed toward a heavy ontological discussion here.  I have a simple question which, believe it or not, my overly opinionated philosophical mind has virtually no idea how to answer.   Maybe one of you out there can help.

I love nature photography.  Flowers, birds, wildlife, oceans, lakes, clouds, mountains, landscapes–you name it, I like looking at these images and they are my favorite to photograph.  Good grief, I’ve even photographed mud puddles and insects.  And yet I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, what one would call a nature lover.  I hate gardening and yard work.  I won’t even mow my own lawn as…

View original post 232 more words

post

Cosmic Quote #43

Now this is cosmic.

Now this is cosmic.

“I hate making cosmic comments like this.”–Danny Elfman

You nailed it, Danny boy; bloody waste of time.

post

Time Out: Harry Baals and Wankard Pooser

This post appears today, under a different title, as my monthly guest post on The Blog of Funny Names.

“I saw a snake having sex with a vulture and, I thought, it’s just business as usual in Washington, DC.”–Jarod Kintz

There may be plenty of snakes and vultures in Washington, DC,  but when it comes to flat out, upfront political lewdness, give me the good old American heartland.  Because the best political names–funny and lewd–are out there in the hinterland.  Consider these two, if you will.

Harry William Baals–(b. Nov. 16., 1886, d. May 9, 1954), was the Republican mayor of Ft. Wayne, Indiana from 1934-1947 and from 1951 until his death in 1954.

Harry Baals.  Somebody in Ft. Wayne has a sense of humor.

Harry Baals. Somebody in Ft. Wayne has a sense of humor.

The obvious double entendre on  Baals name has been a source of much consternation in his home town.   In the more innocent Ozzie and Harriet climate of the 1950’s, Harry Baals Drive was named after him.  It has since been renamed H.W. Baals drive.   That’s a shame, but it’s still funnier than George H.W. Bush drive.  (There has to be a Bush and Baals joke in there someplace, but you figure it out.)

More recently,  in 2011,  the city of Fort Wayne held an online vote to name its new government center, and the public overwhelmingly voted for The Harry Baals Government Center–in fact, more then ten times as many votes as any other name.   The horrified city fathers reneged on the contest and simply named the building Citizen’s Square.  But perhaps the worst slight to the memory of this great man–or at least to his great name–is that his ancestors have taken to pronouncing Baals as Bales.  That’s downright un-American.  They will all be blacklisted immediately on The Blog of Funny Names.

At any rate,  Baals died from a kidney infection during his final term in office.  You can only surmise if it might have been brought on by scratching–well, you know.

Wankard Pooser–(b. Sept. 27, 1893, d. Feb. 22, 1978), was a firebrand in the Florida state legislature in the 1940’s.  Pooser was elected to the first of his two terms in 1945, apparently on the merits of his sole campaign promise, which was to vote against every single bill put before the legislature while in office.   He lived up to that promise in his first term, though that did not stop him from introducing a bill, which was a proposal for an amendment to the state constitution to abolish the legislature.   He suggested that by transferring all of the legislature’s powers to the governor, much time and money would be saved.  You’ve got to love a politician who proposed to outlaw politicians!  Unfortunately for Pooser, the amendment went nowhere, as did his subsequent political path.  In his second term he broke his “all no votes” promise–just one single time–and promptly lost his seat when he ran for a third term.  Undeterred, he attempted a comeback in 1952.  He lost.  One can only conclude that his given name appropriately described his career.  (If you don’t get it,  look up the definition of the British slang term “wank.”)

It seems that the national Republican party of that era missed out on one of the greatest photo ops of all time.  If these two had been at the top of their 1948 presidential ticket, that famous newspaper headline might have read Wankard and Baals defeat Truman!

dewey truman

 

post

Part Two of Our Special Investigative Report

Part Two of this special report reblog. My own monthly guest post on The Blog of Funny Names will appear next week.

The Blog of Funny Names

Hello, and Happy Friday. If you missed yesterday’s part one of this tale, take a looksy here.

The most curious thing about the Registry, is that Mr. Howitzer appears to do his work without the use of a single computer. In his less than flashy office there is desk that is bare except for a well worn beige colored typewriter and some sort of a calculator on each side that he was reluctant to explain (“it is perhaps a tool that requires batteries”). Observing his work over the course of several months, he consults these calculators on a regular basis, as well as having long meetings with middle aged men in suits and hats, like spies from the 60’s, whom he suitably calls his “agents”. These agents appear to roam the world seeking out the funny names of the day.

Besides this agent force, described as being “substantial without…

View original post 330 more words

post

2013 Funny Names In Review: Introducing the Horsey Awards!

Another guest post on the Blog of Funny Names. Check out the first annual Outerbridge Horsey Awards!

The Blog of Funny Names

“I don’t deserve this award.  But then I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that, either.”–Jack Benny

Oscars…Emmys…Tonys…Pulitzers…who cares?  There is a new accolade that every up-and-coming celebrity can now aspire to, over and above anything else out there.

Welcome to the first annual Outerbridge Horsey Awards, given to the best of the funny names honored herein during the previous 12-months.  Yes, not to be outdone by the actors, journalists, broadcasters and pig farmers of the world, we can be just as self serving as any of them.  Here are the inaugural winners of the Horseys; they are  sure to be the envy of the galaxy, if not the entire universe.  (Note: if you don’t know who Outerbridge Horsey is, you haven’t been paying attention to this blog.  Shame on you.)

To imbue a Hollywood-like aura to this affair (and please be wearing a tuxedo or evening gown…

View original post 707 more words

post

Time Out: Time Out Time Out Time Out Time Out Time Out Time Out Time Out…..

“Science is more amazing than science fiction.”–Brian Greene

Bubble, Bubble toil and multi-trouble...

Bubble, Bubble toil and multi-trouble…

As much fun as it is to speculate about alternate or parallel universes,  many have said to me,  it is silly to even try if there is no way to prove or disprove their existence.  You might as well speculate on how many angels can pirouette on the head of a pin.  Because there is no empirical means of proof.  Or is there?  In the last couple of weeks I have seen not one, but two suggestions that physical evidence may have indeed been found for the existence of alternate planes of reality.  And they point to two distinctly different types of alternate universes.  The ideas behind them are not new…but growing evidence is beginning to support the possibility–if not the absolute proof–that they are real.   The first is in the microwave background radiation–the infant footprint of the early universe if you will.  Brilliant and controversial physicist Roger Penrose now asserts that circles in the background radiation–anomalies that should not exist by any known cause within our current universe–are proof of a cyclical universe with repeated big bangs. One might call this a serial, rather than parallel, multiverse. It turns out, though, that this also is possible evidence for the “bubble” multiverse theory discussed by Brian Greene in the video linked below.  His most recent book, The Hidden Reality, is a discussion of the current state, in theory and possible practice, of the various multiverse concepts.

A second possible proof,  of a different type of multiverse (and let’s not forget that Max Tegmark defines four different levels of multiverse) has also been in the news again recently.  It suggest an alternate universe described by M-Theory, where another universe may sit in a higher dimensional space infinitesimally close to us, yet unable to interact in any way.  Except one, that is.  Gravity.  And some astrophysicists interpret otherwise unexplained gravitational influences in the cosmos as possible proof of this theory.

Where do I stand on this?  As stated in my post on possibilianism, I prefer possibilities to certainties; it makes existence far more interesting.  But I must admit:  I am secretly wishing to be able to travel to a parallel universe where that library book I forgot to return in 1989 isn’t 24 years overdue.

http://science.discovery.com/tv-shows/brink/videos/brink-multiple-universes.htm

%d bloggers like this: