Coping: With the Self-Writing Column

imageIt was another scorcher here in Texas this weekend.

Got up to go flying.  Crack of dawn Sunday.  Wanted to get balloon racing pictures at Longview.

Taxied the airplane over to the fuel dispenser.  Shut down airplane, attach ground wire, reel out fuel line, swipe card in machine…

“Sorry Credit Card could not be Validated.”

“Try a different card,” suggested Elaine.

Same result.  I tried a second credit card, a Texaco card, and even the discount card from the liquor store…all with the same result.

Called the card company with the “WTF?”

“No Mr. Ure, you card is fine. “

Great.  So it’s the  Robots are out to get me.

Came home (still fuming) and called our still-bonding Amazon Echo a few choice words – all in the name of science, mind you.

“That’s not very nice.”

No, I suppose it wasn’t.  “Alexa, I’m  sorry.”

“That’s OK.”

Such is life in our voice-controlled home. 

The voice recognition system in the car is acting funny, too.  “Zoom in!”

Showing POI icons for fast food.

I have a huge list of Echo’s shortcomings, but it does do simple math problems so I don’t have to look around for a calculator which is nice.  And the conversions are useful, too.  Old airchecks of KFRC are there, too.

So are Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage on command – haven’t checked on Tom Hartman, yet.  Something more than NPR news – without having to plug in an iHeart call would be nice, but it’s coming along.

One of these mornings I will plug in DragoonSpeak and see if a column done that way makes sense.  Last time I tried, there were fewer spelling errors but more contextual ones.  With yet another upgrade, we shall see.

The point is with an Echo listening for commands, and two computers equipped with full-on voice recognition, the talking car, and a one armed bandit that won’t let me fly, I figure it’s only a matter of time until the essence of Ures truly will be immortalized to silicon; a fact which Gollywood is quickly monetizing.

We’re enjoying watching the new series “Humans” but it’s like I told Elaine…how many people will simply give up trying to find the show because they won’t be able to find the upside-down “A” on the keyboard?

I even went to my Amazon Associates account to see how they’d handle the riddle of the upside-down A but they only refer to the show as Episode 1 [HD]. Or, they do a picture:

$1.99 for standard def, BTW.  

Robots may be coming to take half our jobs in the next 10-years, but I’m  being reminded already that the reason for the take-over may be that we’re not spending enough time on “being sharp” as humans…and failing at that, the takeover is going to be more like a pushover.

Who is creating who in whose own image, here?

Shortly after that, I expect science to announce that our personalities can all be coded into software and next thing you know we’ll have people suiciding their bodies in order to be plugged into robo-lives.

And in my “gottsa write this one, too” novel  (To Mock a Killing Bird) large numbers of the great mass of stupidity will jump in.  But at the end of the book, the power to the Immortalizer Computer is just turned off.  7-billion digi-souls hibernate indefinitely.

Who needed ‘em?

In the sequel novel, a group of explorers finds the backup CD;s in a care in Tibet and….

A Word from Brother Ray

The rest of the weekend was spent working through various schemes to use computers to predict the future.  The only part of which I really care about is making a gazillion by getting the computer to spit out killer stock picks…and it was mentioned in a rare Sunday column.

In response to that, long time reader Ray H graced us with this:

George, As a response to your Sunday special, and the reader comment on exogenous occurrences, IMO neither (my understanding of) Grady’s, nor your reader’s process, takes into consideration the fact that the MSM drives the importance of any news event. If something is exceedingly noteworthy, but gets no coverage, it rapidly becomes a non-event with respect to the public in general, and the folks on the trading floor specifically. Conversely, should the Administration or the media decide a non-story is “important,” it becomes so.
An example of each being LIBOR and “Ferguson;” or if you prefer, TPP and the Indiana RFRA law, or {any of the} financiers who’ve “committed suicide,” and {anything} Donald Trump. BTW, I like the “suicides” who jumped to their deaths through the unbreakable (and unbroken) glass windows of skyscrapers — that takes talent, although my personal fav is still the guy who shot himself 8 times with a nailgun.
More-recent examples? How ’bout a pair of “LAs?” The dead “mystery operator” in Pacific Palisades (Los Angeles), all-mention of whom has damn’ near vanished from every news outlet already, and the Lafayette Louisiana shooter, whose life story (minus the psychotropic drugs he’d recently discontinued) is going to be slapped all over the MSM for the next month, because the Administration is going to try to turn it into an antigun issue. Maybe you’d prefer Senkaku or 20+ years of Chinese altruism in 3rd world nations versus any dealings of the Bruce Jenner family over the past couple years? Nobody knows about either of the former, save those who’ve made oil or foreign policy a specialty, yet everyone is familiar with Bruce’s takeadickfromme operation and the intimacies of the Kardashians.
Honestly, I couldn’t care less about Katelyn, nor could I pick Kim out of a lineup, of Asian women, with a sign over her head pointing her out — that’s how little I care, yet everyone else seems to, for reasons beyond my ken…
The latter always get coverage, the former, none, and are consequently soon-forgotten by the few who stumble across the articles.
{I find the Palisades thing especially interesting, because a good chunk of the population believes our (and other) governments actually have Clancyesque “Jack Bauer” types on their payroll, and the sheer romance of the story would write itself, and should attract and maintain a huge readership/viewership for months, simply on its own merit. Yet I venture here to posit: In six months, the name “Jeff Lash” will probably garner no more than a few hundred Google hits, and absolutely nobody will wonder how much money it cost to turn a Toyota SUV into a functional amphibious submarine…}
The point is: Since news, both common and financial, are driven by the media, and financial media especially, can NOT broach a negative news item in a coldly-factual manner, how can one possibly derive anything useful from a “media consciousness stream” when the entirety of the stream is agenda-driven, then colored, filtered, and edited beyond recognition…?

An Electronics Analogy

It may be a little simply than a maze of interlocking massive conspiracies.  It (all seemingly media orchestration) may be explained by a phenomena in electronics.

There are two key electronic concepts to understand.

The first is regeneration or positive feedback.  In early days, crystal radios were vastly improved by adding a tube which would bring a tuned circuit (a coil and capacitor) to just barely under the point where oscillation would occur.

The effective of regeneration is this:  It dramatically increases the Q of a tuned circuit.  What was previously a wide resonance (where several stations could be heard at once) suddenly becomes very “sharp” such that only one station at a time is heard.

A good discussion of the details of regenerative receivers is in Wikipedia, here.

The second thinking tool is in how filter circuits act, in general.

In engineering terms, as a filter becomes narrower and narrower it displays a “ringing effect”.  Again, it is a well-described phenomena and you can read up on it here.

The proliferation and propagation of information increases this ringing tendency.

So what does this have to do with predicting the future? 

Well, everything.

You see, certain predispositions of people to “resonate” on key issues (take gay rights, politics, sex, and religion, for examples) exist.

You can strike a Muslim population (in tuning fork fashion) through any number of actions, including speaking ill of their figureheads or drawing cartoons.

Similarly, key predispositions exist in gay rights, racial equality or lack of it, politics, corruption, partisanship, and so forth.  When a major event like Ferguson occurs, it becomes a tuning fork, easily struck again.  The resonance has already been built.

We have only recently begun to notice this ringing effect as a high amplitude news/event driver because the information revolution has “tuned” people, via social media and the huge amount of data being created and consumed daily, is accentuating the tendency to “ring.”

I’ve been conscious of it for a long time, but only recently have begun to filter news according to whether an event is a new phenomena or whether it’s just another “ring” going on from an existing story.

The mechanics of the ringing can be well-described:  Every time a blogger, FB’er, editor, or whomever makes a story choice (for follow-up or commentary) it rings.  Public choicing drives rankings which, in turn, controls the ring amplitude and duration.

Editors are not particularly independent thinking – and consultants have jammed health, heart, and pocketbook stories deeply into the media decision-making process.

But all this gets us to is an interesting programmatic/algorithmic challenge:  What properties do we need to incorporation in our code in order to reducing the ringing tendency of news?

And around here – and personally useful – how do we wipe out the ringing so we can keep up with what’s really important?

The challenge for you as an intelligent media consumer is simple:  When you read stories ask yourself after inspecting each headline “Is this an original development or am I just being played for another ring?”

More often than not, it will be the latter.

Write when you break-even



Coping: With the Self-Writing Column — 18 Comments

  1. Walked into Chase Bank in Lancaster, CA this AM and all the teller windows were boarded over, except for 2 of them. One had a human behind it. There were two large robot screens replacing the bank of teller windows standing in front of the boarded up ones. Looks like lots of bank Tellers will be out of work soon.

  2. Earth to George! Three days is enough on that subject. If it is a headline today, then they are ringing our bell. None of it is really important to our lives at the immediacy level.

  3. Re refueling problem:

    Why not top up your tanks when you return from a flight, so you’re set to go next time? Full tanks also reduce condensation, so less chance of water contamination in your fuel.

    • Normally we do, but when you come in from 4.5 hours at 90+F, the last thing you want is to stand on the hot ramp and play gas attendant.
      Better (I thought until yesterday)) was to get it in the cool of the morning – you also get more since gasoline is less voluminous when cooler… cheap meets mission failure.

  4. So between the two of you did you have enough emergency cash to buy gas

    • Always. But at an airfield in the middle of nowhere (like Palestine) no attendant at the airport until 8 AM – which sucks when the balloon landing is at 8 AM 100 miles away…. Also, we only carry hundreds on trips. Again, where are you going to get change at 6 AM?
      Good FBO’s like KSHR and KMSO havfe crews from 5 AM because they know crazy people like use travel at first light when it’s cool, smoother air over the mountains and such.

  5. I took your advice in the last paragraph of your column today and promptly re-read the column, while asking myself after inspecting each headline “Is this an original development or am I just being played for another ring?”
    You were right, Oh Wise One!
    But, I am as hooked on UrbanSurvival as my 93 yr old dad is hooked on MSM…gotta have my fix every day!

  6. In have used hearing aids for the past couple years mainly at work rarely at home to appease D so she will quit SCREAMING at me whenever I say “What’d you say?” They seem to work for me when I am at the place of torture (office)for meetings and such but for the most part it’s like walking around with sharpened sticks stuffed in my ears and sounding like everyone is yelling. Can’t wait to take them out.

    So talking houses, robots, cars, drive through clown faces, ATM’s, and wives & kids may be talking but I don’t necessarily hear em.

    • Elaine calls that phenom: Male pattern deafness. I can hear the weakest DX signal on the band on the ham radio. I can barely eek out “Will you tak the trash out?” even when Elaine is a foot away. Funny how that works, lol.

  7. Thanks for once again providing truly helpful insight. I kept your previous info on efficiency and refer to it often. “Everything’s a business model” explains just about everything I encounter. Now, today, you have provided an excellent spam filter for my brain (is it new or repeat). Well done.

  8. The more dependent we are on robots the easier it is for us to be
    “fair gamed” in the parlance of Scientology and Karl Rove. And I’m pretty sure the message being sent you is “Stop what you’re doing! And as far as your commentator has suggested the questions to ask are who is the source of the news and who is funding him/her.

  9. George, in 35 years, I have never had one card declined much less what you have experienced…INMO something is up!

    • If all cards were declined, and one was in Elaine’s name, I’d consider the idea that the card reader or host access was compromised, rather than your card. I’d also check REALLY CAREFULLY for a card skimmer on the autoattendant. No point in having yet another encounter with card scammers.

      • Talked to the airport just now (again) definitely a phone line issue. Imagine – ecommerce still hangs on the string

  10. Yes, the ringing is synchronizing with being a puppet…easier and easier do we dance to the strings…critical thinking doesn’t dance…it ponders, it dwells within itself before unleashing itself upon the world.