Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What’s a bigger turnoff, a scam from a bot or a human with the usual misspelling?

I’d have to say the human by far yields a bigger reaction from me though the bot would/should be infinitely more worrisome. The bot will only get better at what it does and while the romantic view shows a beautiful bot that actually wants to please us, the likely and very shameful reality is that the technology would be employed to nefarious ends.

Still, a bot generates much less a response from me when it’s just text to read…UNLESS there’s movement attached to it that’s designed to annoy, for example a pop-up window on a web page in front of the obviously intended content a user chose to read.

I look upon physical robots as fun and endearing but then I don’t have any contact with them. I hear there’s one at Giant supermarkets but I haven’t gone to one to see it. Imagine if one of them were to be in, say, a book store where I was trying to read the sides of books and the robot tried to get my attention to suggestive sell or stick some other book in front of my eyes like a pop-up window on a web page. LOL, I’m already getting riled up thinking about it.

Imagine Twiggy robot from Buck Rogers coming up behind you at Barnes & Noble talking in that infernal auto-attendent voice from your least favorite customer service phone call. The m/f and f-bombs would become much more commonplace and I don’t think our society would be improved. Even if Twiggy started with “Beedeebeedee” I would curse it out and probably want to get physical with it. I see someone losing it and hurting themselves in public hitting a robot. What is next? Taking a crowbar with you into book stores so you can fend off the goddam robots. Or bring your own robot, I guess. OR worse, pay some malware type of company that makes robots to keep you safe.

Now how many of us would choose the robot that looks like our favorite attractions?

I will end this with my choice of robots. I choose the posse of vampires in Fright Night 2 (1988) in the picture from IMDB below. Led by Regine Dandridge (Julie Carmen) in the foreground and right, the guy second from the left was often on rollerskates when he hunted. His robot would also be on skates. All these robots would only transform into vampire mode if angered by annoying robots or over enthusiastic sales persons. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097390/?ref_=ttmi_tt


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A night in Knappogue Castle

The Ireland trip in 2019 ended in an Airbnb at Knappogue Castle, in Quin in the south of Ireland. There will be more added to this, but for now I wanted to get up the videos I made of my late night explorations in an ancient castle.

The general theme behind this is my life-long love of horror movies inspired by the Hammer films of the 60s and 70s I saw in my youth. Here I was staying overnight in an ancient castle…what am I about if I don’t go exploring those non-renovated rooms of the castle where there may not be electricity? Enjoy.

Video #1 (Friday morning to show daytime and to intro)

Video #2 (Thursday night, unfortunately in portrait and no flash set, please bear with it, it’s short)

Video #3 (Thursday night continues where video#2 left off, except I set the flash and went landscape so you don’t have to put your head sideways)

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scritch & scribble

More and more nowadays I’ve been coming to the conclusion that I need to leave the social media platform known as facebook because of the overall toxicity. Is there an artistic segueway for that first sentence? A Kafkaesque reference comes to mind too quickly (I’m thinking Metamorphosis) which I think would threaten my segueway’s longevity. For now, I’ll rename the platform FuBar, after a no-longer extant night club I’d been to a few times during my early 20s.

I’ve tried filters and sub-groups for my friends list but those features are no longer available because of a variety of scrupulously nefarious reasons all pointing back to the company behind the platform. I’m thinking Kafka again but now I’m wondering what would Gregor Samsa have done if he saw someone else turn into the monstrous vermin first. What changes would he have made?

Gregor described his job as exhausting and never-ending traffic, exactly as I have often described the feed on FuBar. The constant repetition of every user to react to the same thing, often without checking the validity, time of creation, and relevant scope of said thing, is maddening and I am realizing now, a major trigger for me nowadays.

I think Gregor Samsa would make changes if he knew how. It also stands to reason that he isn’t the first one the metamorphosis happened to. While Gregor’s experience was a negative one, I’m sure for some the transformation was positive, even liberating.

I wonder now where this metaphor is leading me…either the toxicity that infects so many on FuBar is the unfortunate transformation to avoid, OR the transformation is the act of avoidance, whatever that is.

For whatever reason, I’m thinking of the scene from the movie The Matrix where Agent Smith is torturing Morpheus, specifically the part where Smith goes off-script and talks of the effects of humans on our environment. I honestly can’t place either character in my current metaphor surrounding FuBar, which from now on is the dirty streets at night around the nightclub back then.

I guess everybody works, lives, and/or goes to school in this neighborhood, which is west philly in the 90s for me but you can put it wherever you envision it best.

Going forward, including future posts, I’ll refer to this neighborhood as West Fubar.

So, now that we have that settled, I can talk more freely about it.

Today I saw a friend start yelling out loud about the ills of some collective while pointing to a book. Some engaged with him so he put the book down and went off with them, pontificating away.

I went over and picked up the book to look at the reference. It is with a mix of amusement and irritation to see that the reference is to a considerable time in the past. The amusement was added after some time went on; at the time I was just irritated but my “metaphormosis” has given me a different mindset.

Also, the way I’m describing it is painting it in a good light. A world where everybody carries around large tomes of books all with locks and clasps on the side instead of smartphones. Smartbooks, maybe.

Earlier today, someone needed to restate their false assumptions, so they accomplished this by yelling at the top of their lungs. I imagine Kepler was similarly frustrated by the failure to prove his assertion that the orbits of the planets be perfectly circular and fitting into the geometric equations he had previously stated so emphatically. He may have yelled like this.

The parallel ends here regrettably (Kepler would agree).

Actually, I can see Kepler making the same trip as Samsa in an alternate universe and perhaps needed to exercise some mechanism to prevent it.

I could use such mechanisms. More on this later.



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Philly & TianJin


Okay, not good enough.  The whole text of the article follows my next paragraph:

I have images of our Chinatown expanding, as it already is.  I like it.  I have images of Drexel, Temple, or U.of Penn.’s Universities (the baseball caps that Mayor Nutter wore while in TianJin) expanding.  I see TianJin residents wearing Eagles, Phillies, Flyers & Sixers apparel.  I see a whole lotta good for both of us.  I wish I knew how Philly can answer TianJin’s needs, and how to be a part of it.  Just working with TianJin can answer ours.  If only the futuristic super-rocket-train existed here and through the oceans.  Say, Philly to LA, LA to Shanghai, Shanghai to TianJin.  I’d be having dinner in TianJin late tonight. 

Nutter in China, recruiting investment for the city

December 06, 2012|By Jennifer Lin, Inquirer Staff Writer

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At a Beijing school, Mayor Nutter helps with a Sesame Workshop effort to raise environmental… (JENNIFER LIN / Staff )

BEIJING – For a trip that started with an unplanned encounter with a man dressed as Santa Claus doing a Rocky run up the Great Wall, it was only fitting that Mayor Nutter should wrap up his five days here with a photo-op next to Big Bird in a schoolyard.

The mayor’s trip had many surreal moments, but there was serious business as well.

Nutter was invited to China as a speaker for a conference hosted by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, whose think tank in Chicago is tackling the critical issue of making China’s megacities more livable and sustainable. Nutter, like Big Bird, was recruited to get the message out.

During his stay, Nutter – "Na Te," his name in Chinese – stepped into many roles, swinging adroitly from one to another.

There was Nutter as statesman and Nutter as pitchman. One moment he was signing a memorandum on future city-to-city cooperation with Tianjin’s mayor, the next he was meeting in the offices of Air China to argue for nonstop service to Philadelphia International Airport.

There was Nutter as wonk and Nutter as student – now explaining to Chinese policymakers his pledge to make Philadelphia the greenest city in the United States, then listening as Tianjin officials described the breakneck economic reinvention of China’s fourth-largest city.

But what about Nutter as mayor?

As sure as Eagles fans like to take potshots at Andy Reid, someone is certain to snipe that Nutter has more important matters to tend to at home.

Nutter argues that this type of trip is just what he should be doing.

The trip was paid for primarily by Select Greater Philadelphia, an economic-development marketing organization, with some contribution from the International Visitors Council of Philadelphia.

"From time to time, I will have to get out of City Hall," Nutter said in an interview at the end of his trip, "and I’m doing my job, which is to try to get more jobs and investment in Philadelphia."

Baseball cap diplomacy

Not since the legendary visit of the Philadelphia Orchestra here in 1973 have the Chinese heard the name Philadelphia mentioned so much – from a Beijing conference on cities attended by Chinese policymakers and officials, to television and newspaper coverage of his visit.

Even the mayor’s daily choice of a baseball cap has been a rotating plug for Temple or Drexel Universities, or the University of Pennsylvania.

Nutter’s first order of business was a two-day visit to Tianjin, 70 miles east of Beijing.

Thirty-two years ago, Philadelphia became a sister city of Tianjin. It seemed like a logical match. Both were ports that had seen better days and suffered in the shadow of more prominent neighbors; Tianjin is to Beijing as Philadelphia is to New York.

But Tianjin’s fortunes have gotten a major boost from the country’s central planners, with an infusion of investment that can only be viewed as spectacular. Just as Shenzhen and Shanghai’s Pudong district have been anointed as national economic hubs, so has Tianjin. Its economy is growing at a rate of 20 percent a year.

The central government wants to develop Tianjin as a national magnet for attracting and developing China’s clean-energy economy.

"Clean energy is the government’s current priority for a 21st-century industry," said Merritt T. Cooke, a former diplomat in the U.S. commercial service and founder of the China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia.

His nonprofit is trying to foster collaboration on projects between regional businesses and institutions and Tianjin counterparts. Cooke was part of Nutter’s delegation, which also included representatives from Drexel, Fox Chase Cancer Center, the White & Williams law firm, the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp., and the orchestra.

The mayor’s appearance, Cooke said, will get people’s attention here. "The Chinese will not take any institution’s engagement seriously without there being a strong validation at the government level," he said.

The main event in Tianjin was a meeting Tuesday between Nutter and his counterpart, Huang Xingguo, an unelected Communist Party official who administers the megacity of 13 million.

This was no meet-and-greet with a box lunch.

Nutter, the first Philadelphia mayor to visit Tianjin, was welcomed at the city’s government guesthouse, built within a moat and designed to radiate power. A police escort with lights flashing delivered Nutter in a black Mercedes-Benz to the front door. His entrance was the cue for a pianist to begin playing a grand piano.

Heels clicking on the marble, Nutter was escorted into a cavernous reception hall and seated in a red armchair next to Huang in front of a giant mural of the Great Wall.

More than 50 Chinese officials sat on Huang’s side of the room, eyes fixed on Nutter. "I was a little nervous," Nutter admitted later.

In a separate signing room, Nutter and Huang penned a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on many levels, including making their cities more sustainable – a pet issue for Nutter.

Each of the other Philadelphia emissaries also signed agreements with Tianjin counterparts, before everyone convened for a banquet and toasts around a table the size of Logan Circle.

Whether the pomp translates into tangible results is up to Nutter.

He has already invited Huang to visit Philadelphia next year.

"I don’t think either of us," Nutter said, "has any interest in this just being a ceremonial signing."

Shuttle recruiting

For two days in Beijing, Nutter shuttled between the Paulson Institute’s conference at the China World hotel in central Beijing to private business meetings around town.

On Tuesday, Nutter joined Mark Gale, chief executive of the airport, at the headquarters of Air China. On Wednesday, he met with Ambassador Gary Locke for a forum on investment with China-based U.S. executives.

Having the mayor join him, Gale said, "sends a very, very clear message that the city and region are very serious about our desire for new air service."

At the Paulson conference, attended by about 200 Chinese policymakers, scholars, and officials, Nutter the policy wonk was in his element.

Nutter, who is also president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, shared a panel with Beijing’s acting mayor, Wang Anshun. Beijing’s biggest problem: a population growing by one million people a year.

Philadelphia’s has grown by 11,000 people since 2010. Even so, Nutter told the audience, mayors everywhere have to make sure that the air people breathe is clean and the water fresh, and that cities remain inviting places to live.

Through a translator, Nutter enthused about solar-panel trash compactors, storm-water management, and the increase in recycling, as well as the uptick in college students and empty-nesters who want to stay in Philadelphia.

A Chinese journalist afterward declared his presentation "fantastic."

Unscripted moment

During his trip, Nutter carried around with him a thick blue binder filled with schedules and talking points.

In a rare unscripted moment, after the pomp and ceremony with the Tianjin mayor, Nutter ditched his black Mercedes and jumped into a bus carrying the rest of the Philadelphia delegation.

Nutter was pumped. It was a postgame pep talk.

"As Philadelphians, we often downplay what we have to offer, that we’re not good enough," he told the others. "I’m trying to break that."

He reminded them that Tianjin is just one of seven sister cities of Philadelphia. "It’s time for us to open ourselves up," the mayor said. "We can’t be a secret anymore."

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Let alone making a model of it, I very personally think the Millenium Falcon is the second perfect place to live. I mean, seriously, my apartment would be comparable in size….maybe a little bigger, still it could be done. And my commute would be better; I’d just fly to work.

But my first choice would still be some of the castles I’ve seen in various vampire movies, populated by as many of the “Hammer Horror” actresses as I’ve seen over the years as would be legally safe. Commute would be a showstopper, though.

Now, the perfect world would be if I had the Falcon parked in the castle’s courtyard or something…

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Test Post

Hey, Matt – This is a test to see if this will work.  How’s it going?  Kerry

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