Contents

Caty and Cara's Page

Our Computers

Snapshots with Text

Essays for Fun

Ken Burch's Tales

Ken's Neocron Tales

More Neocron Tales

Secret Wars

Tales of the Walker Clan

Our Cast

Why Kevin Doesn't Dance

Writing of Mine That Doesn't Totally Suck

Stuff dl Thinks Is Cool

The Old, Old Grandma Story

The Final Battle

James' Photos

James Meyer's Birds:

Introduction

Photos 1 through 25

Photos 26 through 50

Photos 51 through 75

Photos 76 through 100

Reading

a book cover

Playing

alChandler's Halls



Spreading optimism since 1999


AI

For some reason Newton decided that there was one spot on my bedroom's carpet that was perfect for scratching. When I caught him I'd yell and he'd stop it but that didn't stop him from doing it the next day. On Marie's advice I bought bought him one of those corrugated cardboard things and parked it on the spot he was using.

As it turned out he loved it, problem solved. I took a picture of him sitting on the thing like he was a ship's captain. And because of that I used the picture in the Dream app with the prompt, "My cat as a ship's captain," and used the Baroque filter and the AI produced the picture I'm using as my phone's wallpaper.

While I like the picture I wouldn't call it art. I just contributed a description and Dream did the rest. But Dream is not self aware so personally I don't think of its pictures as art. But I suspect the jury is still out on whether or not AI's productions can be called art or not.

I'm bring this up because the NY Times had an article about Lee Saedol. He was the Go player who lost a match to AlphaGo in 2016. Chess playing computers use brute look ahead to defeat human grandmasters, but Go has too many moves for that to work. But the folks who taught AlaphGo the rules set it to playing itself. The version that won the first game became the seed of the next two versions, and so on. AlphaGo taught itself the game's strategy and it got good enough to beat a Go player of 9 dan rank.

Lee retired from Go in 2019, he felt that losing to a computer meant that his world was collapsing. If that's the way he feels then that's the way he feels. As a kid I loved strategy games, as an adult I discovered I suck at them, life went on. But I'm not interested in watching a computer defeat a highly ranked Go champion at this point, I accept the fact that programs can kick our asses at lots of things, things that require intelligence that was once thought to be beyond a computer's capacity. I suspect that sometime in this century we'll produce a general artificial intelligence. When it arrives let's hope it does better with its intelligence then humans have with theirs.

July 12, 2024


Sandman and Loki

Next year Netfix will release season 2 of Sandman. Among the new characters introduced are Odin, Loki and Thor, IO9 writes:

Notably, TV will also enjoy a new Loki in Freddie Fox, who’s currently appearing on House of the Dragon as Ser Gwayne Hightower. Loki’s nothing without his better-liked brother, Thor, however, and so Laurence O’Fuarain of The Witcher: Blood Origins has the unenviable task of taking over the role from the MCU’s Chris Hemsworth. Scottish character actor Clive Russell (One Piece) will play their disappointed father, Odin.

I'm being a bit picky here but in the original myths, Loki was not Odin's foster son, that was an invention of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Odin and Loki were blood brothers It's referenced in the Elder Edda in a section called Lokasenna. Loki is thrown out of a feast, he comes back pretty pissed and says to Odin:

Odin! dost thou remember when we in early days blended our blood together? When to taste beer thou didst constantly refuse, unless to both 'twas offered?

Odin then says to his son Vidar:

Rise up, Vidar! and let the wolf's sire sit at our compotation; that Loki may not utter words of contumely in Oegir's hall.

I'm wondering how folks who only know the Aesir through Marvel will react to Neil Gaiman's interpretation of them.

July 4, 2024


Scavengers Reign

Ari and her robotic sidekick Levi

In December an animated series premiered on Max, Scavengers Reign. The cargo ship Demeter 227 had a horrendous accident and a few of the crew manage to eject in pods and land on a planet called Vesta. They're separated and they're attempting to survive as well as trying to land what remains of Demeter 227 to wake up the passengers in cryogenic stasis (not to mention grabbing the supplies the ship was carrying that will make their stay on Vesta a lot easier). I gave it a try based on a rave review by Jeff VanderMeer. I was expecting something like the Southern Reach books and the series (created by Joseph Bennett and Charles Huettner) was very much its own thing, so I bailed after two episodes. Apparently I wasn't alone because Max kicked the series over to Netflix. Last night, aided by edibles, I gave it a second try, and damn was it good. I ended up binge watching all 12 episodes.

The aesthetic is what if VanderMeer and Moebius collaborated on a series. There are three groups on Vesta. There's Ari and Levi, Sam the ship's captain and the ship's botanist Ursula, and finally Kaemen and Hollow. Kaemen is the guy who (unintentionally) was responsible for the ship's accident, Hollow is a telepathic animal whose contact with Kaemen did it no good.



Kaemen and Hollow

It took me six months to appreciate Scavengers Reign for its own sake and boy is it good! If I had to describe its genre I'd say it's New weird which is not to everybody's taste. The series underperformed by Max's standards which is why they kicked it over to Netflix. The 12 episodes tell a complete story but there's setup for a second series. But no more then Max, Netflix isn't a charity and they're watching the numbers, so we'll see. Anyway, that's my media recommendation for 2024.

June 30, 2024


Shadow of the Vampire

Nosferatu was an adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Stoker's widow found out about it and the movie's director, F. W. Murnau changed some details and the movie was released in 1922 as Nosferatu. The courts were not satisfied but that's another story. Suffice it to say that Nosferatu is the ancestor of subsequent vampire movies.

The vampire in question is Count Orlok (who is definitely not Count Dracula). Orlok was played by Max Schreck.

Schreck was very good at playing a vampire.

Fast forward, years ago I watched a movie called Shadow of the Vampire. The idea was that Schreck was so good at playing a vampire because he was a vampire, that's the hook. I really enjoyed the film but never saw it again. I'd check on Amazon but while the DVD was available, it wasn't available digitally. But today, just for the hell of it I checked again and there it was. Cool.

Willem Dafoe played Schreck. According to the IMDB Dafoe got the part of the Green Goblin in Spider-Man after the producers saw him in Shadow of the Vampire. By the way, in the book, Dracula could go about during the day, I really should reread that book.

June 24, 2024


Reading the Evening News

My Dad worked rotating shifts, so he would sometimes read the morning edition of the newspaper and sometimes he'd grab the evening edition. I don't think that there are too many papers still publishing evening editions these days. Newspapers have websites that are updated during the course of the day. Newton, on the other hand, is a traditionalist. He reads the morning paper when I get up and let him in the office and when I come back to it at night he reads the evening edition. But although he's getting old he still keeps up with the times, sometimes he'll sit on my lap and get the news from various Videos for Cats on YouTube.

By the way, as I was writing this I remembered the time Trump refused to allow the New york Times to be sold in his casinos. That led me to a 2016 article in the Times about Trump in Atlantic City called How Donald Trump Bankrupted His Atlantic City Casinos, but Still Earned Millions. If you're interested and don't subscribe to the Times, it's a gift article. I discovered I get 10 gift articles a month, cool. Anyway, if you are (or were) remotely connected to the AC casino industry back in the day, you won't be surprised by anything there but it's nice to see it all laid out right and proper.

June 23, 2024


This Is Some First Class Bullshit

Its dishonesty is charming in a weird sort of way.

June 20, 2024


AI Rant

When I woke up this morning I checked my phone and Charlie Stross on Mastadon had a link to a rant titled I Will Fucking Piledrive You If You Mention AI Again. By the time I got out of bed, showered and had my morning coffee the essay had made it to Verge.

Sweet merciful Jesus, stop talking. Unless you are one of a tiny handful of businesses who know exactly what they're going to use AI for, you do not need AI for anything - or rather, you do not need to do anything to reap the benefits. Artificial intelligence, as it exists and is useful now, is probably already baked into your businesses software supply chain. Your managed security provider is probably using some algorithms baked up in a lab software to detect anomalous traffic, and here's a secret, they didn't do much AI work either, they bought software from the tiny sector of the market that actually does need to do employ data scientists.

There's a lot more, if you're so inclined.

June 19, 2024


Gloomwood

I finished Gloomwood today, at least the 20% that's in early access. I'll let the game alone for a couple of years now. I had to go to a walkthrough to complete it, as it turned out I missed a key from one of the guards. I'm also finding the city hard to navigate without maps. Even the half assed maps provided in Thief would have been appreciated.

But on the whole I enjoyed my second play through of Gloomwood. I made the game harder then it had to be by not taking the flare gun when I had the chance. I do that kind of thing a lot, I'm stubborn. Of course now that I know how useful the flare gun can be in battle I'm tempted to go back for another playthrough. But I have enough self knowledge to realize that another playthrough would only end it disaster and self incrimination. We're not going to go there.

June 18, 2024


Daddy Long Legs

Every summer one of these things moves in next to my door. I don't know how they get their food or water but they hang for a few weeks and then they're gone. I kind of hope they move on to another spider friendly place.

June 16, 2024


The Rectification of Names

I download a lot of books from Project Gutenberg and other sources and after they were on Kosh I never bothered to change their file names to the actual title of the book. Which wasn't a problem until I had to call Amazon the other day about a book I couldn't access on my Kindle. Among the things they asked me to do was to deregister my Kindle and reregister it. That didn't help my problem but it did wipe out all the books on the device. That's not a problem for the books I purchased from Amazon but it is a problem for the several hundred books with alphanumerical file names from online depositories. And rather then half ass things the way I do everytime I get a new Kindle, I opened every book file with Calibre and changed the file name. Along the way there were moments of, "Damn, I forgot I had that book."

I'm sure there are other books hiding in the recesses of my drive but the bulk of them now have their titles as their file name and they exist in a shortcut on my desktop.

So that's it for productivity this month.

June 16, 2024


Trump on Bitcoin

And Bitcoin mining will provide high paying jobs for Americans.

June 12, 2024


Dragon Age

Today I upgraded from EA's old store, Origins, to its new store, EA, to get ready for their fourth game in the Dragon Age series, Dragon Age Veilguard.

The Dragon Age series reminds me of a Five Guys burger, enjoyable but nothing to write home about. I'm thinking of replaying the third game, Dragon Age Inquisition to refresh my memory. It's been 10 years since I played that game and while I posted this on YouTube back in the day, I don't remember the context.

Yeah, I've no idea what's going on here. I do remember that Varric the Dwarf used to write adventure serials under a pseudonym and that straight ass Cassandra read them and became a fan girl when she found out that Varric wrote them. I remember that Iron Bull attacked me towards the end of the game because I didn't go off mission to save some friends of his. And I remember that Solas the Elf Mage revealed at the end of the game that he was going to do something evil and dangerous. So yeah, I may replay the game, or just go to the game's Wikipedia entry.

Meanwhile, Newton's been watching me type this, occasionally reaching for the keys to see what all the fuss is about. Time to wrap this up and post it.

June 12, 2024


A Visit to the Lighthouse

They say that one of the reasons time seems to go faster as we age is that the world is no longer new to us. We simply stop paying attention to things we've seen and done before. With that in mind, I was under the impression that I bought the early access version of Gloomwood before covid hit. In fact I discovered that I purchased it in 2022. Make of that what you will.

When it was released the only part of the map that was ready was the fishery and the mines. The idea was you were in prison, an unseen benefactor helped you escape and after you made it through the fishery and the mines you were to rendezvous with him at the lighthouse. However the lighthouse didn't exist yet, at least not in a form that was ready to be released to the public. But the two guys making the game (Dillon Rogers and David Szymanski) added content since then and I made it to the lighthouse over the weekend. Today I made it past the lighthouse and entered the gates of the City of Gloomwood.

In other gaming news I did indeed finish Horizon Forbidden West. The game seemed substantially harder then Horizon Zero Dawn and its plot boiled down to, "You know how we thought we saved the world? Well everything broke down and now we're fucked again." After beating the game I started the expansion content, found that even harder and bailed. But it was important to me to finish the main game and that's what I did. Then last Saturday I started Gloomwood again. There's enough new content to justify another play through.

By the way, if you want to try out the original demo, GOG still has it.

And looking at my calendar, after this week the only thing I have between now and the middle of July is a telemedicine thing on 7/3 with the urologist. Life is good.

June 11, 2024


Gloomwood

There were more corpses then that one, three more. Nobody could figure out how to get past the tree, so they just milled about. From time to time one of them would get within range of my sword and I'd whack them. Eventually one of my assassin's walked into a cooking fire and started burning. He started running around screaming and managed to set two of his companions on fire. That left one guy who still couldn't figure out how to walk around the tree. Occasionally an arm or leg would get within reach and I'd do a bit of damage. I'm not too proud to take advantage of the limited intelligence of my enemies.

June 9, 2024


Election 2024

June 7, 2024


I Hate Flying

Several years ago I played Farcry 5. There was a sequence that involved getting in a plane and flying after a bad guy. The W key pitched the plane down and the S key pitched it up. I just couldn't master that and there was no way to remap the flight controls, so evil won that time.

A week and a half ago I came to a point in Horizon Forbidden West in which I had to take control of a Sunbird and fly it to various locations. Inevitably it used the same control scheme that Farcry 5 used. I putzed around with it for a bit and put the game aside. I was preparing to take the bus to New York City and was stressed out over that so I didn't need the stress from HFW. But I'm back and today I fired up the game and managed to fly the damn bird to where I needed to go. Rah team.

I suspect I'll finish the game pretty soon.

June 7, 2024