Print Story Siri, draw me an Inconvenience Store
By xth again (Sat Jul 23, 2022 at 07:08:50 PM EST) (all tags)
En-ger-land, Ambassador's Wife, Thor, London, Watermelon Spritz, Algorithms to Live By

Travelled to: En-ger-land

After Spain we travelled to England to visit The Wife's family. Small village, they still had Union Jacks everywhere from the Jubilee. When I first moved to the UK during Thatcher's reign the National Front and violent skinheads had appropriated the British flag. It was tainted. But now the St. George flag, has that dubious honour. The Union Jack is just quaint. It has the right combination of shapes and colours. The Basque flag has the same shapes as Great Britain's, but with Mexico's colours. It's an eyesore. The French flag has the same colours but in rectangles. How boring. The Brits got it just right. And in small villages with all the brick buildings it has that retro 60s connection. It's nice being in England. I still feel at home here because I am used to the rhythm and all the idiosyncrasies. I miss the day to day a bit.

Being Fabulous: Ambassador's Wife

One of the The Wife's Family's neighbours is the retired widow of a former ambassador. Fabulous woman from another era, used to entertain dignitaries and foreign elites. I love watching her in action, moving from little group to little group. Lighting it up dying conversations seemingly without effort. Making everyone feel fabulous and at ease. It's like watching a master musician at work. Even though our extended family setting must feel very drab compared to what she was used to.

Watched: Thor (Disney)

I was arm twisted into watching Thor: Love and Thunder. Never been a fan of the character even when I was a kid into Marvel comics. Too working class WASP macho for my taste. And it still is, he's a rock dude with dad jokes. Moving in a universe which is basically heavy metal record covers come to life. Atrocious soundtrack. Guns'n'roses and electric guitar solos punctuating bits of the action. I had complained about the 70s revival in many kids movies in the past. I thought it was about time they upgrade to 90s revival. But I had forgotten that in the US the 90s was the era of G'n'Rs and grunge and all that rock stuff. We were into Soul II Soul and rave and golden age hip hop and dance in Europe. Sorry I got it wrong can I get that 70s funk back please Oh well.

Overloaded senses with: London

Managed to cram a couple of days in The Big Smoke. It took me half a day to acclimatise to all the sensory input. I don't know whether it is ageing, the week I spent in the countryside, or being used to a slower city. It's just so fast and relentless. I rented a bike and did a tour of some of my old hunting grounds, and went for drinks with old friends. I hadn't visited for about 8 years. A few things have changed, but not drastically. Lots of little corners and back streets, back then nondescript, are now cute little squares with cafs. Quite a few more public spaces for people to relax than there used to be.
I always thought the lack of of public spaces a shortcoming of British culture. Everything has to generate profit. There are very few public squares with benches compared to cities in mainland Europe. If you want to sit down and enjoy the sunshine you need to go to a pub. Or one of the many parks of course, but they are fenced and kind of removed from the urban landscape. All that was already changing under Red Ken, and now the difference is quite noticeable.
Cycling seems more civilised these days. No taxi driver or Royal Mail van tried to run me over. That could be because I was on one of those Santander bikes, they might have taken pity on a tourist. I hardly saw anyone jump lights or weave their ways through cars stopped at traffic lights. Except for me. All those survival skills I picked up in decades of London cycling felt like a relic from another era. I only went on a pavement once. Then I realised pretty much everyone walks around looking at their smartphones. It's impossible to navigate around them with a bike.

Drunk: watermelon spritz

Everyone is crazy about Aperol Spritz. Apparently it's one of the top 10 cocktails in the world by number sold. Amazing as it was virtually unknown until a few years back. It's a Mitteleuropean thing. The Aperol version comes from Venice, and Hungary has a few of its own. And in the German speaking world they have Weinschorle. All from the Austro-Hungarian empire. When I was growing up we only had the wine + soda + lemon version. I still find Aperol, Campari and all that syrupy stuff quite sickening. They miss the whole point of a spritz, which is to be dry . If I wanted syrupy stuff I'd drink a cuba libre or g&t or something. In England I came across a Spritz with watermelon juice and a bit of tequila. Genius! I don't even like watermelon, but this was really good. It tastes like summer.

Testing: Jenni AI

I tried writing the last paragraph using Jenni AI . It's an ML tool that supposedly writes text for you. You seed it with a sentence and off it goes. Like the suggestions Google Mail does, but more extreme. The suggestions made perfect sense, but they were not what I had in mind. Which is understandable, the model couldn't possibly know what I was thinking. Except for the last three sentences, they are Jenni's. It's probably much easier to guess concluding remarks than anything else. I can see tools like this being very popular for clickbait articles, and non-native speakers.

Read: Algorithms to Live By (Christian, Griffiths)

I am going to stop reading maths / science books for the general public. They are always disappointing. This particular one covers algorithms like sorting which I am familiar enough with. As well as others like the multi-arm bandit which I wasn't, but then it has nowhere near enough details. Could be useful as inspiration if I need to explain similar stuff to "civilians" though. The examples were quite good and very easy to follow. In the future I will just read undergrads books. At work we have set up a small study group to go through a Stanford data science undergrad course, and it was much more rewarding than books like this.
And that is all.
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Siri, draw me an Inconvenience Store | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden)
The first two Thor movies were so bad … by lm (2.00 / 0) #1 Mon Jul 25, 2022 at 10:28:14 AM EST
… that I almost didn’t watch the third. Anytime anyone complains that a new Marvel film is the worst one ever I clear my throat and cough “Thor”.

Sounds like the fourth entry is getting the Guardians of the Galaxy treatment with a slightly different genre for the soundtrack. I hated Guardians. Basically the plot is “psychos on a killing spree to a classic rock soundtrack”.

I may watch it once it comes to a streaming service. But it’s not on my list.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
Haven't watched them all, but yes, definitively... by xth again (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon Jul 25, 2022 at 03:08:38 PM EST of the worst. On top of the repetitive superhero crap it's also very disneyfied. You expect Jack Sparrow to appear any moment. And after they hit you with the lame dad humour for a good hour they start with the agonising hour long death sequence. Dreadful, just dreadful

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Siri, draw me an Inconvenience Store | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden)