Angry Robot

Predictive Text Laffs

Not sure why, but there is a certain kind of comedy that always cracks me up: broken telephone, mistranslation, poor imitation. And also Markov chain stuff, like where an algorithm tries to guess the next word based on its analysis of previous words. It feels like a computer trying to bullshit you and failing. Here’s what I’m talkin aboot:

Why Are We Fighting the Crypto Wars Again?

This is indeed a very well explained take on the Apple vs FBI affair. (via)

Comedian John Mulaney Jokes About How Donald Trump is Like Every Hobo’s Dream

Love this analogy:

Donald Trump is not a rich man. Donald Trump is like what a hobo imagines a rich man to be. Like Trump was walking around under an underpass, and he heard some guy like ‘Ohh, as soon as my number comes in, I’m gonna put up tall buildings with my name on ’em! I’ll have fine golden hair, and a tv show where I fire Gene Simmons with my children.’ And Trump was like ‘That is how I will live my life.’ … When he makes a decision, he must think to himself: ‘What would a cartoon rich person do?’ Run for president.”

Toronto’s grand transit plan (maybe, hopefully)

So I didn’t link to this yet? WTF? Also check out the Alt Shift X trailer breakdown.

The Bike Wars Are Over, and the Bikes Won

Janette Sadik-Khan on her time as NYC’s transportation commissioner

Revealed: the 30-year economic betrayal dragging down Generation Y’s income

27 Ways To Celebrate International Men's Day

I think I linked to this when it was first published? Nevertheless it’s worth a refresher course.

Seeing Trump as vulnerable, GOP elites now eye a contested convention

The Trouble with Transporters — CGP Grey

More Latinos Seek Citizenship to Vote Against Trump

Brazil’s breakdown: ‘A political and ethical crisis without precedent’

Donald Trump Needs 7 of 10 White Guys

Come back to your senses, white guys.

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: I Falsified the Data in My Bestselling Book Everyone Poops

Why cars and cities are a bad match

Succinct making of the case for public transit

The rise of American authoritarianism

Interesting, although there’s something circular in its reasoning. Also, how will it apply in the general election? 44% of Americans are authoritarians, but if 55% of republicans are authoritarians will the other 45% non-authoritarian republicans vote Trump? Will the 30% or whatever of Democrat authoritarians vote against their party? Will that be outweighed by non-white authoritarians who probably won’t vote Trump no matter what?

The growing risk of civil war in Turkey

Made me think – how will the series of wars emanating out of the Middle East starting in 2002 be remembered? As a bunch of separate conflicts or one big one? At this point it has touched Africa and more and more it is touching Europe.

Something Important Happened 6

[Continued from here. All articles in this series will be archived here]

After we saw you we went down to the hospital cafeteria and ate. It was strange – you feel like food is unimportant compared to everything that’s going on. But that’s not how your stomach sees it.

There’s this strange feeling of relief after the trauma of death. If the person you love had been suffering, there is this realization that you no longer have to worry about their suffering. But there also is this stampede of busywork that sweeps you up at the worst possible time vis-a-vis your ability to actually do anything: find a funeral home. Talk to the coroner. Sign paperwork. Wills, notices, invitations, phone calls, emails, everything.

My sisters were a godsend. Having them there to bring their massively superior organizational facilities to bear on directing the stampede was an enormous help. It didn’t hurt that in times of crisis, my mother is essentially a warhorse. So all the post-death arrangements were handled by a not-unanimous but certainly professional panel.

We disagreed mildly about how the funeral should be arranged. My sisters are both Unitarians. My mom is a Catholic-raised agnostic, and I’m pretty much a Buddhist at this point. But you were an atheist. I remember you telling me there was no such thing as god when I was a kid (“but lots of people think there is, and that’s okay”). So I tried to advocate for the atheist. We decided a Unitarian church was an ok location for the event. There aren’t a lot of non-church locations that are workable for a funeral, and the Unitarians are an open-minded lot that don’t insist on any particular dogma being included in the service.

The panel invited people, decided on speakers and performers. I made an invite and then a program. I looked through old pictures of you. I began to feel proud. Still sad, but as I had discovered there are many different kinds of sad.

You wanted to be cremated, so we had to go up to the funeral home to inspect the body before this was to happen. No one was invited but the funeral home fixes you up in your dressy clothes anyway. We went and saw you and they had combed your hair oddly – puffed out to the side. It made us laugh; you would have laughed too. Although I remember wishing I could have somehow just atomized your body as soon as you had left it. Better that than have strangers handling it and screwing up your hair.

We fought about the remembrance ceremony, as we were now calling it. We met with the officiant, a nice Unitarian minister (priest?) whose suggestions I nonetheless had to keep vetoing, because I felt I knew what you would want. There would be no prayers or invocations. There would be remembrances, and songs.

People started to arrive. My sisters’ families, my aunt and uncle. The house started to fill up. A neighbour lent us their house for the duration, and we put people up there. People told stories about you. We rehearsed the songs.

Then the memorial day came, and we put it on. We played songs from your album as people filed in. It was quite a crowd. We had few decorations, some flowers, some pictures of you. You were a handsome man, don’t you know? Friends of yours came, many who I hadn’t seen in years. Friends of mine came from work. Friends I hadn’t heard from in ages had heard about it and asked to come saying, “your dad was a good guy.”

People spoke. We heard your life story – in part, but well told, by the people who were there. And at the end we sang that song.

Afterwards it was a wake at your house. People filed in; it got crowded. Some said it was the best funeral they had ever been at. Some said, “he had quite a life”. I switched into associate host mode and didn’t have much of a chance to think about my own feelings, which was good. We poured Guinness, and food was served; people were hanging out in the garden. Stories were told. Your old friends told me how much I reminded them of you.

And in that way, on that day, the old, withered, wraith-Tom began to recede and a new, remembered and imperfect – but much more representative – Tom took form.

It’s been over five years now since that day. In the months following, things were hard to take. Many things that were important in my life – work, my interests, whether I got out of bed – seemed insignificant compared to what had happened to you. As time went on, I was able to put things back together again, and figure out what belonged, and what I should jettison, what I should work towards, and what I should just drop.

As with the memorial, I tried to think what you would do, and I still do that every day.

I wear your watch on my wrist; I think of you every time I look at it. Your picture sits next to our dining room table, which you made. My daughter knows your name and your face. She asks about you. I wish you two could have met, but that’s not how it happened. So I tell her stories; good stories. There are so many. So much wisdom. Thank you for all of it.

Amazon Introduces 2 Alexa Voice-Controlled Devices

Cheaper, smaller Echo siblings

Something Important Happened 5

[Continued from here. All articles in this series will be archived here]

My mom and I talked after this doctor left, as neither of us could recall which department he had said he was from. We joked desperately that perhaps he didn’t even work here. A twisted soul who came in off the street to give bad news to strangers. An angel of death.

A day or two passed. The junior geriatrics doctor met us and we discussed ‘the palliative option’. Then the junior geriatrics doctor brought the senior geriatrics doctor. They were kind and thorough. They echoed the angel of death. They described your state since the fall as a ‘delirium’, and said it was actively harmful to the brain. They said you would likely be much worse off, if you recovered, which now seemed unlikely.

By the time the geriatrics team was preparing to leave we had decided that you should go into palliative care. You did not deserve this suffering.

I cried when they left. Your breathing got quite bad – these ragged, grasping pulls of air. Sometimes it sounded like you were either trying to say something, or calling out in pain. My mom became upset and demanded a nurse give you some pain medicine. It helped. The machines now showed your vitals update every second and I watched them like a stock trader in the middle of a crash. I did get one glimpse of a smile when I talked to you – barely visible under your oxygen mask, but detectable in the creases of your eyes.

They told us we should go home and get some sleep so we tried it. That night was hard. Here I was, in my newly purchased home, drinking a scotch, and there you were, in some nether state of consciousness, labouring to breathe, completely alone. I wished I knew where you were, where you were going.

Early the next morning the phone rang. It was my mother – the hospital had called and you were not doing well. I called a cab. I was on Bayview when my mom called again and said you had died.

My sisters and mothers were there when I arrived. You were there in body only — I struggle uselessly to write about this moment, my sentences forming and then falling apart. My words like a bridge across a chasm, a bridge that falls away.

You had loved a particular song, one that you and I performed at my aunt’s funeral. We always knew we’d sing it at yours. I always knew I’d experience something like its final verse. Alyssa started singing it right there at your deathbed, and we all joined in.

Went back home, my home was lonesome
Since my mother she been gone
All my brothers, sisters crying
What a home so sad and ‘lone.

Will the circle be unbroken,
By and by, Lord, by and by.
There’s a better home a-waitin’
In the sky, Lord, in the sky.

A Complete History of the Millennium Falcon

via Funkaoshi

Something Important Happened 4

[Continued from here. All articles in this series will be archived here]

You fell. Two weeks later you fell again. But no one told my mom, so when she got in, she tried to get you out of your chair to bring you to the bathroom. You screamed in pain, then told her, “something important happened!”

It was a Tuesday. You had gotten up in the middle of the night, as you liked to. A caregiver came in to see you shaky in the middle of the room. You fell and she managed to protect your head, but you banged your hip and knee.

My mom asked one of the home officials if they would not do an x-ray, and he said the physiotherapist had examined you and you were fine. He moved your leg and said, “see? He’s fine.” Nonetheless my mom discovered she could insist on an x-ray. They said they would do it the next day at 2:30. She got there at 2 and they told her they had done it at 8am. They had only x-rayed your knee. It was fine.

My mom grew angry and told them they needed to do your hip. They said the doctor would examine him and see if it was necessary. But the doctor would not be in for a couple of days.

You were out of it now. You weren’t eating well for the first time in ages. When you had to be taken to the bathroom, we had to use an elaborate machine – kind of a crane for seniors. It hurt to look at this thing, to see your delicate sleeping frame being hauled like goods.

When the doctor did see you, it was the following Wednesday. She said you needed a hip x-ray. The machine was brought in the following day and it showed you had a broken hip.

You were taken to Sunnybrook hospital. They said they could operate and fix your hip, but if it had been a couple days later, they couldn’t have done it. If they did the operation, you might regain your previous mobility. If they didn’t, you’d never walk again. We decided you should get the operation.

Both your daughters came up, Heather and Alyssa. You were not conscious enough to respond to any of us. I took time off work. I would sit next to your bed and talk to you, but the only glimpses I got were the hint of a smile now and then.

The operation happened extremely late at night. We were there, waiting all day for it to happen. Finally they took you down. We followed, not knowing what to do with ourselves. One of the doctors came out and asked for us – you had become agitated as they moved you to the operating table. But finally it was done. We were told it could take hours and there was no point in staying, so we went home.

The next day we came in to find the operation had been a success. We waited for you to come to. Heather had to return to the states for her work. We waited the next day, and still you slept. The following day your breathing became laboured and your vitals got worse. They said you may have contracted pneumonia. We told Heather and she came back the following day.

The hip doctors had done their thing, and said you were now in the hands of the geriatrics. We waited for a visit from them. In the meantime we got a visit from another doctor. He introduced the idea of palliative care. You might very well recover, he said, but to some level below your previous baseline. And 50% of hip fractures over the age of 70 die within the year – it’s a sign of the body’s fundamental weakness. He put his hand on my shoulder. “Would your father want to live like this?”

I became angry. This was so obviously a speech he had given many times before, and his empathy was so manufactured. And how could we suddenly turn around and give up on you, after we had gone through all this? But at the same time the reasoning rang true. I felt like I was lost in a forest, and had just gotten my bearings to discover I was much further away from home than I thought. I might be angry about it, but it didn’t make me any closer to home.

Twitter Has Become a Park Filled With Bats

Julieanne Smolinski:

 <blockquote>        <p>Twitter is like a beloved public park that used to be nice, but now has a rusty jungle gym, dozens of really persistent masturbators, and a nighttime bat problem.</p>   </blockquote>