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Nick himself

Oh, the irony…

It’s a bit like bronzey or Goldie (looking chain). I need some dental work doing. So this is how it works out. My dentist says she could do it but it is potentially complicated (nudge, nudge, wink, wink – oh I get you). So she could do it but if she boots me upstairs to the clinic either in Manchester or Macclesfield it counts as a hospital referral and is therefore free. Otherwise her or her partner could do it but they aren’t quite as specialist as the dental hospitals mentioned so it would be best for me to see them. OK, I trust her judgement. Fine, cool, we are all the Fonze here. But there is a kicker to the deal. If she treated me further I’d be on the hook for GBP219 to the NHS but if it is done in a hospital it is buckshee and paid for with fairy tales.

I shouldn’t mock. The Disney Company made a lot from fairy tales. So, let’s get this straight? If I opt to see a specialist rather than a local GP-type dentist I get this free? I guess it makes sense in the sense that getting it done by the top folks probs saves on further dealings (and this is a crown on a front tooth so we are not currently at home to Mr Cock-Up). I mean definitive treatment by the best place is a good thing and all and saves further costs either to the system (or me) not that “the system” comes free…

The last time I bought a computer with VAT at 20% I… Well, it’s hard to say what I thought (for the bill specifies VAT). For a normal human to even pronounce what I thought it would require vastly more extensive dental surgery than I am looking at. It would require a quart of Strangeways toilet-bowl gin and a windy-pick. And it would sound something like an Oompah Loompah yodeling a One Direction medley through a National Distress bus station urinal. Whilst it was on wobbly eggs. And with a banjo up the arse, sideways and lubed with R Kelly’s baby-fruiting juice.

Anyway. /rant off. But it is bizarre that the potentially better treatment (which admittedly isn’t too local – more on that later) is free whereas the treatment at my local dentist is GBP219. There is something wrong with this but I’m not entirely sure what it is. Perhaps that is how they get away with a profound capuchin-jockeyed donkey-derby. But if I get the tooth re-capped on the nowt this way then OK. I mean “on the nowt” with the above cacophonous caveats noted. As it ain’t free is it? But if I’m not charged again for it that is good.

I got a letter today from the local dentists with the NHS form for my ref to one of the above clinics. I had to sign a form – a blue form – Gods help us! A blue form!!! It came with another blue thing – a 2nd class stamp. Now seeing as the nearest post-box (which is gold – thank you Barney Storey*) I hand delivered the form. Less hass than posting it. The first girl I ever snogged was a Brosette** and she used the phrase “mass hass” a lot. Not that that ever involved me. I was a cipher. Run fast and low. Keep supersonic and off the radar.

I hope I made some sense here.

*That lycra-clad assassin nearly killed me once. I would have been dead’d and he’d have been in the paralympics for real.

**Yes, she had Grolsch bottle tops in her shoes and wore a red neckerchief.

Battles…

This is a long term pet hate of mine. I hate it when people use military language such as “fight” or “battle” outside of context.

I have long hated it in sport. Since at least Euro ’96 and The Mirror mocking-up Stuart Pearce in a Tommy hat before England played Germany in the semi. It is crass at best.

Now The Mail reports on a study that such language is often unhelpful to many cancer sufferers. The implication due to a study by linguists at the University of Lancaster is that people who succumb to the disease haven’t “fought” hard enough. I get that.

So a thumbs up to The Mail for reporting this point.

And two thumbs down for following it up days later with this.

I hate this metaphor of battle. Ms Gibbs died because she was unlucky or the diagnosis was made late or the treatment wasn’t good enough or some combination of the three. I lend clock-cycles to the likes of Folding@Home. I lend my Intel Core i5s. I am part of 164,000 giving a little bit of tame lightening to help provide 38,000 Teraflops of computing to help cure or treat (note I don’t say “defeat”). Flops are floating point operations per second. And that is 38 Petaflops or 38 quadrillion sums per second. Or 3.8 x 1016 calculations per second. Not even Michael Gove demanded that many using times tables and slide-rules. It is quite possible the sum total of human endeavour in the field of arithmetic is greater since 1950 than since those folk in Sumeria all those millenia back invented place system arithmetic.

Forgive my emotion here but I watched Rosetta/Philea touchdown on Churyumov–Gerasimenko. I had to go to the dentist this morning to see about a crown being replaced which was not the start to a day I wanted but by about 4pm when we got the news from Darmstadt that Philea had landed I was marked this day with a white stone. Sometimes we slip in the bathroom and crack a tooth and sometimes we have petaflops and land on a comet half a billion km from home. That is about 30 light minutes away. My degrees are in physics and astrophysics. That was my Apollo moment. Neil and Buzz of course did their thing before I was born. For me this was better and even more awesome than Voyager 1 hitting the heliopause. And that was awesome. Some of the US Christian Wrong objected to the images of naked people on it. Well that is 15 billion km away and doing 17 km a second so they can pick-up our interstellar porn. Because that has like so gone.

We can be magnificent. And Rosetta has been. ESA landed something the size of a washing machine 500,000 km from home and it worked. I wish (in a frivolous sense) they’d landed that bloody dreadful Hotpoint from my kitchen in outer space. That thing once went completely tonto and lifted the kitchen work-top about 3cm. The sound was awesome. I thought Al Queda had bombed my kitchen – possibly because I had bacon in the fridge. The kitchen work-top is solid granite. It was like having R2-D2 break dancing.

I’m just (for once) in a good mood with my species. ESA got it there within 2 minutes over a ten year mission covering billions of km (it did gravity assists on the way). The dentist was twenty minutes late. The train from where I live is never on time. That mission is awesome. Yeah it cost GBP1.1bn but somethings are worth it. The dentist cost GBP18.50 (well cost me that directly). I am a happy camper today. And I hate seeing the dentist – does anyone like it? ESA – I salute you.

We are a mixed species. We can make TVs (amazing) and then make shows like Geordie Shore to show on them. Have you seen that? Don’t. I’m a Geordie and my heroes are folks like George Stephenson and not some slag (not a word I use lightly) crawling across a bathroom-floor whilst venting urine in a desperate bit to get to the toilet to vomit. She was out in time and distance by more than Rosetta and she hadn’t gone billions of km.

You want something done spot on get a physicist. Richard Feynman once compared his theory (Quantum Electrodynamics) in accuracy to measuring the distance from LA to NYC and getting it to within the width a human hair. Just ponder that.

Update: Philae is not out of the woods yet. But even getting it down is magnificent. I so hope it works. This is as important as Viking or Voyager.

This is Fermilab with a jetpack. This is the reason I still trog on. I recall the discovery of a quark and this guy run into Lecture Theatre B1 – University of Nottingham told us that at CERN they had confirmed it. And we all (and there was a lot of us) spontaneously cheered. That was the Standard Model down.

I just love science and techie stuff. I had a flatmate doing English Literature and he wound-up (through no fault of his own) doing “Old Icelandic Edda and Saga in Translation”. He hated it. I was in the second year lab with interesting kit and the preserved blackboards of some fellow called Albert staring down at me. Can’t imagine who he was. It was all Greek (and German) to me. But I wound-up knowing both the Special and General theories of relativity. How cool is that!

I am going into rhapsodies for it is late.

I am going to contradict myself (but as a physics grad I have earned the right – Nick has a cat – Timmy – and so did Erwin Schrödinger).

I don’t do weird things with Timmy in a box but he has to go in one to go to the vet sometimes. That is fun.

C:\>

I have been using Windows 8 on my new Lenovo S440 (great little machine) for some time (though I’m not sold on the new trackpoint but then neither was Hitler). It’s OK – I guess but the scrolling is a pain. I guess I can jiggle that but – and this is the J-Lo but(t) – I have had to re-install Win 8 twice due to the machine locking down or simply playing les buggeurs risible – so I guess I shall have to reset again. Today I had some semi-malware – a browser hi-jacker and though ’tis gone I had to go through a frigmarole to get an MSDOS-ish (yes, really!) prompt up and nix it by hand. Worked like a dream but at first I tried the new Windows Powershell which doesn’t recognise post ’95(?) long filenames (D’oh!!!). Old Skool MSDOS (remix) does so Steve Ballmer can take his Metro interface and stick it up his hairy, sweaty arse. And he can be burnt in a wicker penguin with his fucking charms round his neck. His neck if he is lucky.

I mean I reboot – and it goes back to the (I thought slain) Metro interface which informs me that Benedict Cumberbatch is trending. Apparently he’s got engaged. Great. Very happy for him and his future bride and all that but it does the square root of a weasel-fuck for me actually getting Chrome to work. I ‘m sorry – I can’t recall exactly what the hi-jacker was but it was some “local” thing connecting to Ask.com.

I did a hard-reset – another thing MS has made like the stations of the cross – after Malwarebytes (free version) had quarantined, reboot, Powershell – no dice, the good old C:\> did the trick. The Buddha on a hoverboard! Muhammed with a jetpack! I had in certain senses more power in my paws with a MSDOS 5/Win 3.1 Elonex with a 386SX16 and 4Mb of RAM in 1993 than I have with this machine chained as it is to the rotting idiot that is Win 8. This machine I ordered with 8Gb of RAM (2000 times as much!) but when you consider Win 8 takes 2-3 Gb of RAM just to get it’s boots on I do wonder. What the fuck is it doing? Working on the Nork nuke? Decrypting for the NSA? photoshopping jihadi selfies? Fuck alone knows. This machine has 8Gb so the overhead doesn’t really matter but it still pisses me off.

I want control. I have never had any designs on invading Poland but I want total control over my “toy”. I want a Lego set and not a Barbie*. I want my C:\> back. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to go back to the 640K limit and having to create boot disks just to play Falcon.

Before anyone starts… I tried 8.1 but it was worse. Win 10 had best be good or I’m going Linux for most stuff. Obviously I’ll keep a Win machine for games and some stuff. You have been warned Ballmer. You are treading on a very slippery Surface. Because I swear to the God of Circuits I am not alone.

Here endeth the rant.

*An ex of mine who’s Mom was a very senior mathematician (went on to become head of the AMA) successfully lobbied Mattel to drop a certain “talking” Barbie over one of it’s phrases, “I’d like to be an animal doctor [sic] but math is hard”. Of course “math is hard”. So is hacking through a computer Old Skool but at least you feel in charge and my Speccy didn’t want to tell me celeb gossip.

Modern Art & Godzilla’s Butt-Plug

Now, don’t call me old fashioned here. I am a liberal kinda guy butt (ho ho!) this shocked me…

This is Paul McCarthy’s “sculpture” “Tree” exhibited (this stuff writes itself) in France. The only reason I spotted that was I first misread the link as “Paul McCartney’s butt-plug in Paris”.

Anyway, it lacks any artistic merit other than the capacity to shock. Now, I note I said I was shocked but not in the way Paul McCarthy meant. It isn’t “challenging”, it’s just dreadful. It’s shocking in a way because it is so boring.

Marcel Duchamp produced “challenging” art a hundred years ago and some of it was quite clever. This is more sh’ite than an Ayatollah. Things that I am specifically interested in such as maths, physics, aviation and computing have made tremendous advances in the last 100 years but art seems stuck in a rut of childish petulance where you can win a Turner Prize (God knows what Turner would make of it) for puking into a jiffy bag and mailing it to The Pope.

So, this “installation” was vandalized by outraged Parisians and whilst I deplore vandalism I can kinda see where they were coming from. Oddly enough the first Dada exhibition actually provided a hammer for visitors to smash the exhibits. That was new and dappy and kinda cool back then. It has now become very serious. It has caused Mr McCarthy to do this…

McCarthy decided against re-erecting the Tree, which was deflated by security officials, and has instead planned an artistic response. Paris Mint spokesman Guillaume Robic said the chocolate factory was already up and running and had been producing 250 chocolate Father Christmas figurines, each with a butt plug, each day for the past few days. Eleven rooms where the figurines are stocked have been made dark to resemble a long tunnel. Visitors will be able to move through the halls, where there will be a strong smell of chocolate, and where a video and “aggressive sounds” will be playing. “It’s a dream, or a nightmare,” Robic said. “It reflects the aggressiveness that McCarthy felt after what happened in the Place Vendôme.”

The chocolate factory – a reproduction of a 2007 installation by McCarthy in New York – is operated by pastry makers who have been trained to perform by McCarthy.

Alas dear reader you can’t expect a butt-plugged choccy-wocky Santa in your Christmas box for they go on sale in January.

I shall re-iterate I am not a philistine and I like some modern art but what really shocks me is the capacity of these folk to get away with shock for the sake of shock. More than that the capacity of certain people to fall for it. I mean it isn’t shocking in the way intended. I mean you can buy a butt-plug in Anne Summer’s on Market Street in Manchester. There is nothing shocking about McCarthy other than he is considered shocking, provocative, challenging etc which he isn’t any more than a small child having their tenth tantrum of the day.

I might go out with my watercolours and paint landscapes of the Peak District. Now that would flummox the critics.

But before I go… I have to mention the “comedian” Jimmy Carr who apparently at a music awards do recently made some off-colour remarks about Oscar Pistorius. Oh, they were edgy! They just weren’t funny. To commandeer a phrase from the Duke of Wellington, “In comedy there is no substitute for being funny”.

Like Paul McCarthy (with his admittedly hilarious strop on (or should that be strap-on?)) Jimmy Carr has jumped so many sharks he ought to be working at Sea World.

It is the same thing. I am not offended except by the fact I am expected to take offence. If your only trick is to offend the Daily Mail and Nick ain’t leaping at the bait I couldn’t give a…

…I could have used some “bad words” there but what is the point?

I mean these are people who shouldn’t get a fuck in a monkey whore-house with a truck-load of bananas.

Vultures

Yesterday I was at the Gauntlet Bird of Prey Centre in Cheshire.

I learned a lot. I learned how to handle a Harris Hawk called Pablo. I also learned that vultures are critically endangered. For a large animal they have had a decrease in numbers unparalleled in recorded history over the last few years.

Now this is a problem. Obviously it is a problem for the vultures but it is wider. As the primary garbolists of the Animal Kingdom they are a vital link in the ecosystem. They can eat almost anything. But in South Asia a generally banned (but of course freely available on the iffy market – consider the prohibition of heroin for example) cattle drug kills ‘em. They eat a bit of dead cow and they die. Now lots of people don’t like vultures but things that clear the land of dead things help prevent disease in other animals including humans.

Now that is bad in Asia but the situation in Africa is appalling. This is how it goes. Our fun-loving criminal mates, the Russian Mafia, have taken a strong interest in rhino and elephant poaching. Now obviously they take the horns and tusks and leave the rest. Alas, due to the size of the game reserves of Africa, the only way the rangers patrolling them are likely to get a chance of catching the poachers is by spotting the vultures hovering over the remains. Now, if you are the sort of scumbag who will unload a clip of 7.62mm into a rhino to flog the horn to the Chinese (it is apparently worth four times it’s mass in Au) you are pretty ruthless and obviously you don’t want to get caught. Note that the park rangers pack some heat. You have to against Russian Mafia sponsored types with AK-47s.

So, to reduce the chance of being caught the Russian Mafia has been systematically eradicating not just their prey animals but the vultures. They have been doing this by lacing the corpses of the dead rhinos and elephants with cyanide.

Vultures have essentially no sense of smell or taste. This enables them to eat things that would make you and me reflexively vomit profusely. It is their strength in the whole chain of life and also their weakness when it comes to Indians drugging cattle (apparently this is a Hindu thing – the beef is not good for people to eat but the milk is OK and of course Hindus don’t tend to eat beef) or the Russian Mafia deliberately poisoning vultures.

The truly shocking thing. Well, there are a number. Deliberately killing a truly useful animal (with all the knock-on effects) is dreadful. And they are of course magnificent and very friendly birds. And as you can imagine (if you are regular you will know) that as a fanatic about fighter ‘planes I have a soft spot for our pre-Wright Bros. winged warriors. But it ain’t just my soft spot that is agitated here. The ecosytematic damage is extreme and via disease it also kills people. Imagine how healthy you would be if no-one picked up the bins? You’d be pegging it from dysentery and cholera. And vultures do this service for free in some of the poorest parts of the World.

But they are deliberately being killed by the Russian Mafia to sell the Chinese stuff that should be banned. Well it is banned but has that ever helped anything? I mean US prohibition only boosted the Canadian whiskey industry. How were the Feds to patrol a 3,000 mile border? How does a Kenyan park ranger patrol an enormous game reserve without spotting the circling vulures?

I am not saying theses vile trades ought to be legalized but very clearly the illegality has not helped.

I do not know what the solution is. How could I? But shooting some of the buggers might help. I mean they won’t do it again will they?

I’m only saying this because I suspect many readers will not know about it. Because vultures have an undeserved bad-rep, because I just love everything that flies because I just do and always have and perhaps when it is properly explained you begin to understand how complex ecosystems are not just to the critters but to us. I don’t want to see a rhino being shot and a vulture being poisoned so some Mafia oligarch can flog the horn to a Chinese plutocrat. I really don’t want to see this so completely innocent Africans die from diseases that nobody in Europe ever gets.

I’m quite serious here. If you support one animal charity this year – make it the vulture.

Apparently, and the guy who showed of his vultures had done a lot of work in Africa, at least one Russian Mafia boss has a plan. He wishes to stockpile as much rhino horn and elephant tusk as possible before eradicating both species entirely so he gets to corner the entire market. The destruction of the vultures is merely part of this insane (but lucrative) scheme.

That is what it is about. Extinction for temporary profit done by very evil people.

Quote of the Day

There is another name for “disproportionate response”.

It is called “winning”.

NickM of this parish, coming down firmly on the side of the IDF

Just a normal day for Manc-ish folks…

Well, I had some shopping to do so I went into central Manchester. I know the city well enough that this is not really a chore. I knew pretty much where to go but I had a sit in Piccadilly Gardens to collect my thoughts. As is my wont I had a cigarillo. Now this moocher comes up to me and asks for a fag. I have to describe him. He looked forty-ish – much of it spent living in dumpsters – but I was feeling generous and gave him a tab and a light. He then insisted on paying me back. Now at this point you have to appreciate he was wearing a pair of trainers that would disgrbbace a Harold Ramp, a ball cap older than Abner Doubleday and a pair of ratty generic football shorts and nothing else. I was somewhat glad I was in a crowded place in broad daylight. He tried to offer me money (which I knew was a blind) and then rummaged in the front of his shorts (which by then I had noted without joy were packing some heat – Good Golly Miss Molly! I’d just gone into town to buy a birthday prezzie and now I’m about to be sodomized by some fucker with a cock the size of a bleach bottle. It was not how I’d planned the afternoon to pan out.

But he doesn’t whip his gentleman’s gentleman out. He has an already opened 2L bottle of Strongbow cider in the undercart and offers me a swig. I decline as politely as I can.

So I make my purchases and get the train back. It’s all good. Until I realise my wife is out and I have no keys. Locked out of my own home. You can imagine the swears. No you can’t – they were beyond comprehension in rapidity and violence (I can swear for England). So what does Nick do? Well, my house is co-extensive with the Quaker Meeting House and they never lock the ladies toilet window and I know that nobody is in on a Monday afternoon and the communicating door only locks from one side so I build a ziggurat of garden furniture and break in. I come close to spackering myself but I get in in one piece. It was dicey for a while because the window only opened to a vertical 45 degrees and I had to crawl, rotate and drop onto the toilet. And I did that with bust ribs (from an incident a few days back). And I’m 40.

So just an average day. But that was fucking Bravo 2-0. That was Sailor Malan on the R/T yelling “Tally!”. And why not? My wife is astounded at my window creeping. So am I. I had to take my trainers off to fit through. That is how tight it was. That is how cool it was.

Yes, there is an “Anus” in the Phillipines…

… and it is not that far from a “Bollock”.

And there is much more gold to be mined. I realised I was in the wrong job when my solar-system dynamics lecturer (he’s on the telly sometimes) Carl Murray used the phrase, “Semilatus rectum” and I was the only one to laugh. I blame Viz. And my Gran who had a turn of phrase that would shock you younglings (easily the worst line uttered by Ewan McGregor – evah).

H/T davidthompson.

Back in the land of the living…

I am with Sky for most everything – net, TV, landline… Now the modem/router has been “on the blink”* for sometime and finally joined the digital choir invisible on Saturday. So I’d got a TP-Link replacement. Top-notch piece of kit. Think fine – set it up – 198.162.0.1 and all that – easy as falling off a log. Except I tried everything short consorting with wiser heads and virgin sacrifice**.

It turns out – and at no point did Sky or TP-Link make this clear that Skynet** only works with Sky modem/routers. And I’d spoken to Sky and they’d only told me to get a new gizmo – they didn’t tell me it had to be a Sky one! It was only later when my wife howled at them they said, “Er…” So had to buy one from them. I had originally thought they might replace their hardware buckshee but we seem these days to live in the land of negative customer loyalty. I mean they offer reduced deals for some months to new customers but if you have been with ‘em for years they couldn’t give a toss. I don’t like that. And they are all at it. BT, TalkTalk and all the rest of ‘em.

So, I’m back online. Thank the Gods of TCP/IP!

If anyone in the UK needs to buy a pretty high-spec wifi modem/router which is really nearly new then I am your man.

But being de-netted was dreadful. It was almost like being dead. It was like I kept on thinking things like, “There’s gotta be a solution online”. Then, “Oh bugger!”. It was like having a Speccy without a tape recorder. And it was really pissing me of because of my recent getting of a new laptop (8Gb Lenovo S440 with a Core i5 CPU). I was peeved.

*a techie term meaning roughly, “Circling the drain in the House of the Fucked”.

**Problem is round here there is no way to find three wise men and a virgin so no second-coming for us.

***For that is what I call it.

Rolf Harris

Rolf Harris was a massive part of my youth. It would appear now that he was a massive part of other kids youth too – and not in a good way. I mean I always thought Saville was a sleazy sod but Rolf! Rolf was Aussie gold.

I use to watch his show “Cartoon Club” as a kid and as 19 year-old he headlined the end of year party at Nottingham University. He was great. He got bigger cheers than Dannii Minogue who was the second on the list. I was right at the front and she certainly was “well fit” in the live. I guess she was maybe (even then) too old for Rolf’s tastes and Kylie would have clobbered him with a knotty prop – always struck even from her days in Neighbours as a feisty one our Kylie.

So I saw Rolf with his wobble board and doing Jake The Peg, painted an Outback scene and did a few songs and told a few jokes. The consummate light entertainer – especially after a few tinnies of Fosters – yes there was a reason the evening had an Australian theme.

I just don’t get it. If you are a successful, wealthy, entertainer you can actually get a consensual sexual relationship with an attractive adult. So why all this nasty, grubby stuff? Is it to quote Wilde, “Dining with Panthers” or is it just egomania or what?

Rolf, you let a generation down. You let me down. Now you are going down.

Athina

Athina turned up today. She is a Lenovo S440 with an Intel Core i5, 8 gig of RAM and she runs like a beut. And she is slimmer than an underwear model. Nice keyboard (really nice) and the tit and clickpoint are ace. I just love this machine. I am struggling with it because I am getting over my epically buggered Toshiba. I had to type with an external keyboard on my chest. It was emotional I can tell. This is fucking magic. I love it. It feels like my wife’s Lenovo E335. I’m a bit of a Lenovo fan-boy. Apart from anything else they just have like the flight deck-of-the-Death-Star look and feel. Apple can go ‘eff themselves in their silver. Give me Lenovo in black anytime.

So that’s Athina. She is ace. I always give girl’s name to computers: Urania, Thalia, Hekate etc. But this is Athina – the Goddess of strategy. I adore her already.

I came close to calling her Athina Nike – the Goddess of Victory but when a name is done it is done. Atina Nike is my next deck. Bring it! But just not yet.

I can’t write any more.

It has been growing on my mind (and the likes of parents have commentated – “but you used to have such lovely hand-writing Nick!” – untrue, it was OK) but I can’t write anymore. My penmanship looks like Michael Parkinson sent a free Parker Pen to the fucking monkey house (just for enquiring). I struggle with it when it comes to birthday cards and such.

Why is this? I mean I’m educated and all… Well, sort of. Apart from a single 10 cred module in philosophy (Descartes) at University in 1992 I just haven’t really had to write anything more complicated than a shopping list. That was 22 years ago. I can type like a fury. I guess it is much the same way most British adults have a driving license but would have no idea what to do with a coach and eight. It’s called progress.

Having said all that I can still paint and draw in the oldie manner. It is not a loss of Manuel Dexterity (didn’t he have a bad game against the Dutch last night) but rather pure lack of usage of my hands for a pacific porpoise.

I can still do math stuff but nobody really judges you on that because it just looks like squiggles to most people anyway.

Oh, well, c’est la vie!

I don’t believe you want to do that Dave…

Well it would appear possibly, arguably, a computer at the Royal Society in London has passed the Turing test.

Read the whole thing. It is interesting. Alas I seem unable to copy and paste from the Guardian otherwise I’d dissect this because I am less than impressed. It would appear they haven’t released the transcripts. And it was impersonating a 13 year old boy. All very fishy. Certainly it ain’t as tough a test as proposed by Kurzweil. This had to be believed by 30% and got 33%. The Kurzweil test is much more rigorous.

Oh and Prof. Kevin Warwick was involved. Hmm…

My fave comment though on the Graun is this (I seem to be able to copy those)…

For a moment, let’s just forget whether and why some computer might pass the test and what that might mean. Suppose instead you wanted to decide whether a human is intelligent… What criteria would you apply? What rigorous and material or empirical definition could you come up with for “intelligent”? Or for “thought”, “objective”, “emotion” or any other noun relating to individuals inner lives for that matter?

Of course there’s no real definition for “intelligent” that doesn’t rely on other abstract nouns, e.g. if you decide it’s “problem solving ability” then you only shift the question along to “what’s a problem, then?”.

But we all agree as a linguistic convention that there is such a thing as intelligence and that humans possess it. But if that’s true and a computer and successfully disguise itself in some open-ended way as a human then we’ve no grounds for denying the title of “intelligent” to the machine.

You may still deny that this has any metaphysical significance. On the other hand, you can’t deny that in that hypothetical the computer has transcended your ability to distinguish it from other entities you agree to be intelligent. That makes the machine categorically distinct from all others in history, at least from your perspective and is surely a significant fact in itself. Without the Turing test, you’d be stuck in a quagmire — what the test does is isolate this significant observation from all metaphysical or linguistic confusion, reducing the matter to observable behaviour.

In the end, it’s a definition of intelligence. Do you have a better one?

No, I don’t but I have never felt sure about the Turing test in general – and yes I have read a lot about it. Does it have agency? Does it have imagination? Can it make mistakes? Mistakes are important for creativity. They seem to me to link tightly with creativity. I have for a long time thought it is probably in principle to compare genuine thought with the perfection of computers in a way almost analogous to quantum complementarity. I have no idea why I feel this except I feel it which perhaps is the point. I also tend to think the Turing test is just too instrumentalist. It in a sense doesn’t get to the heart of consciousness. It’s Searle’s Chinese Room. It is sort of a search for pure empirical proof without theory.

I never trust pure empiricism without theory. I think that might have been Eddington but I can’t track it down and I am writing in a rush. There is a saying (a joke really) in the AI biz about whether you can take it apart with itself? And that is the problem. Can we really understand ourselves properly, scientifically? I feel it is an impossible task and more to the point pointless. Shakespeare couldn’t predict comets arriving but he knew humanity better than any trick-cyclist. Just look at Freud. Or Kinsey or any of those preverts. I’ll believe in the Turing test when it can explain why I love Donne’s 20th elegy but can’t stand Tennyson’s romantic musings. I’ll leave the last word to Albert Einstein…

It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.

Crassology – Dixon style.

Last night I watched the final of “Britain’s got Talent” on ITV. It was primarily a collection of profound tosspottery. But this act stood out (even above the pro-mawk that was teenage rappers “Bars and Melody”. It was “Paddy and Nico”. An elderly British woman being chucked around the stage by her much younger Spanish dancing instructor – “Oh, young man!”. The act itself reminded of a Quote by TS Eliot along the lines of it being fascinating “If you concentrate on the essential horror”.

But that was not the point. Paddy, the geriatric hoofer, had almost missed the final due to some (clearly) minor injury and Alesha Dixon (one of the judges) praised her “courage” and explicitly compared it to the courage of the troops on D-Day. Epic fail.

So, doing a three minute dance routine is equivalent to charging Sword beach with a rifle at a German machine-gun nest? Alesha, get your dictionary out.

I dunno who won. Frankly I was past caring so put the footie on only to see England secure a goal-less draw against those titans of the game – Honduras. Yes, Honduras. When it comes to the real thing Italy are going to murder us and stack the bones in the shower before breakfast.

I did quite a lot of swearing at the telly last night. And yes, there is a literary ref there which I’d be interested if anyone knows. And I mean knows, not Googles.

I was going to say something serious…

… but the Cat’s server was playing Les Buggeurs Risible. Anyway this is a shorty. I used to live in Leeds (dreadful by and large – if it ain’t the Devil’s arsehole it is well within the CEP farting zone of it). Anyhoo, one day, to relieve the sheer horror*, I take a trip to Harrogate. Most genteel it was too. Didn’t like that much either. Rather too much up itself if you ask me. I apologise for the arse jokes though we shall shortly enter another orifice.

Harrogate has many bijou shops selling crap to the sort of people who have more money than sense. One of the noted (by me anyway) galleries of over-priced crap was called and I swear I’m not making this up called Godfrey and Twatt.

I almost expired from laughter after leaving it (well I had to go in). It was so full of pretentious shite it needed a colonic. Fortunately there was a place for that round the corner. That’s Yorkshire for you. Urban hell-holes and rural places that think they are Chelsea with scenery. Oh, and Compo going down a hill in a tin-bath. I hated that show. From the dreary theme tune to the geriatric pace and all ports between.

Here endeth the ramble.

*I once lived on Meanwood Rd. If that sounds Dickensian that’s because it was. My landlord was Rory Aikins. I saw him on telly not that long since. I once torched a chair of his in the back yard. I swear to God, Allah and Shiva that there were “things” living in it. So I took it outside and with the aid of a newspaper had a bonny. I’d asked him first, mind. He may have had some sentimental attachment to this dreadful thing but he said OK. He took it off my fucking deposit mind. Cunt. Utter cunt.

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