Friday, February 18, 2011

I, for one, (do not) welcome our new computer overlords

Ken Jennings is The Man. Not only is the dude intelligent and knowledgeable enough to win 74 consecutive games of "Jeopardy!", but he's not a jerk about it. In fact, he was even gracious about loosing to a machine. Under the response to his Final Jeopardy response in the second of two games against another Jeopardy champion and a computer, he wrote "I for one welcome our new computer overlords". A brilliantly-used "Simpsons" reference that you should not need explained to you. (See "Deep Space Homer", Season 5, Disc 3.) Awesome stuff.

Well, I do not welcome our new overlords. I realize that Watson, the supercomputer that defeated Jennings, is not dangerous to anyone in any way. I also realize that Watson is a major milestone in the development of artificial intelligence. Watson is able to understand and appropriately respond to complex statements. Computers are only going to get smarter. At some point, computers that are able to make independent decisions are going to exist. What happens then? I just hope people in reality are a lot more careful than the characters in Sci-Fi movies who created supercomputers. The development of robots that look and function like humans is well underway. Unless the robots and computers are filled with kill switches, backdoor access, and maybe even remote-destruct devices, the world could very possibly face a Skynet/Matrix/Cylon type of situation in the next one or two-hundred years. Just as the humanity is recovering from the weather changes and rise in sea level caused by global warming, it may have to face the very real consequences of creating something more capable than itself and facing a very real danger that once only existed in the realms of fantasy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2,000 comic books?

Right, so this happened a month ago, now, but I got my 2,000th comic book. I have over 2,000 comic books in my collection. I don't know why this is significant, but that's quite a few books. I bought Young Avengers #1-12 and Special #1 in a set on ebay. One of those books was officially the 2,000th in my collection, a collection I've been working on building up since December 1992, so it took a while to get to this point, but, man, that's a lot of comic books.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

We need more Bort license plates in the gift shop

So, I was driving along the other day, minding my own business, when I saw a license plate from the great state of Michigan. The license plate had four letters, which read, BORT. I laughed so freakin' hard. I wanted to pull up next to the guy and yell, "My son is also named Bort!" I didn't get the chance, but he's probably heard that one before.
Funniest. License plate. Ever.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Synthetic Pot Sends Salem Teen To Hospital

POSTED: 2:59 pm PDT August 18, 2010
UPDATED: 8:27 pm PDT August 18, 2010

A Salem teen wound up in a hospital after using synthetic marijuana last weekend, according to an anti-drug nonprofit organization.

Tom Parker, spokesman for Oregon Partnership, said the 16-year-old asked a homeless man in Englewood Park to buy him Buzz, so-called synthetic pot, at a head shop. Hours later, the boy's mother said she awoke to find her son yelling, pacing and hyperventilating.

Parker said the teen was taken to Salem Hospital's emergency room for treatment of high blood pressure and elevated heart rate. While at the hospital, Parker said, the boy asked his parents not to let him die.

The teen suffered side effects from the blend of herbs mixed with synthetic marijuana, also known as K2, according to the nonprofit.

K2 is sold at shops in Washington and Oregon, something the victim's mother said has to stop.

"No parent should have to tell your son 'No, you're not going to die,' and then sit there and the only reason your child is breathing is you are reminding them to take a breath," said the victim's mother.

The teen is doing better, his mother said, but still feels intermittent effects from the drug. She said she wants the drug banned

Oregon Partnership said they are calling on lawmakers to outlaw the chemical."

Lousy LIBERAL MEDIA always trying to get drugs outlawed... That's a bad situation for that family, but exactly how is it the drug's fault that her son asked A HOMELESS MAN IN THE PARK to go into a head shop to buy him drugs? I'm sure when she's had a chance to calm down, she'll realize what kind of stuff her son is into and rip him a new one, but does the news media really need to run this type of story? That is, the type of story where the people involved are making logically flawed demands of our government based on their personal problems? I'm not saying whether K2 should or should not be legal, all I'm saying is; this is not the argument that should get it outlawed.

Monday, August 2, 2010

It's an oil well, what could happen?

So, there was this oil well that sprung a leak a couple months ago due to an explosion. The explosion killed 11 men (and injured 17 others), so it was a tragedy immediately. What led up to this was a series of completely preventable mistakes that were motivated by wanting to get the job done as quickly, easily, and cheaply as possible. OK, people can be greedy and irresponsible and mistakes can be made.
Most of the early news-reporting on this catastrophe focused on people figuring out how they were going to fix the leak and when they would be able to put the next plan into action. Wait, what? How could they not have had a plan in place before they even started drilling. This oil rig and hundreds of others like it are out in the oceans, drilling into the Earth, with no plan in place about how to fix a well if it blows and begins gushing oil into the ocean. How can this be when every one of them has to have a permit and inspections and all that other annoying yet necessary bureaucratic stuff? How ever professional these people are, they are somehow allowed to set up a drilling operation and just drill away without knowing how they are going to react if the worst happens.
The worst part of all this is that I never once heard or saw this angle of the crisis addressed in the news. How is this not a major issue for people?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Kids are can teach them to hate the things you hate...

I promised myself I would not be the kind of parent who began indoctrinating my kids in the things I love at the earliest possible opportunity. Specifically, I planned to let Leonardo (and any future children) discover comic books and superheroes on their own just as I did. This is not what happened.
It began with a coffee cup. I have two identical coffee cups with Spider-Man on one side and the Hulk on the other. Leo saw one of the cups nearly every day from the time he was born. In his first year, when he was beginning to talk, I taught him how to say, "Hulk" because I thought it would be cute. It was. He soon naturally learned to identify the Hulk on posters around the house. It wasn't long before I taught him to say approximations of "Spider-Man", "Iron Man", and others.
As of this writing, Leo owns 5 shirts that feature the Hulk and/or other Marvel characters, and when getting dressed in the morning, Leo will often request, "Hulk" or "Iron Man". He can ID various versions of the characters in diverse art styles from the '60's and '70's to modern painted versions. Although he's never seen them on-screen, he can get as excited about seeing them in print as he does with Sesame Street characters.
I never wanted all this to happen and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I'm concerned he'll grow out of comic book characters before he has a chance to really know them. On the other hand, a thing does not have to be important to my kids just because it is important to me.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sometimes justice, like the hawk...

I understand why our justice system has to work the way it does. I understand why police can't beat a confession out of a suspect and why they aren't allowed to take a person out of their home in the dead of night and make them disappear. But, sometimes, I believe we need a different kind of justice. Sometimes I think the world should be a little more like a comic book world.
How is it that Terri Horman, who so obviously kidnapped and likely killed her stepson is still a free woman? I understand that the police need the proper evidence to arrest her and convict her in court, but wouldn't it be nice if there were people out there like Daredevil and the Punisher who could pull this horrible woman out of her bed in the middle of the night and beat a full confession out of her? Where is the kid? Why did she do it? Who were her accomplices?
I just think of all the trauma this would save the rest of the family, and all of us really, because we all feel it every time this poor kid is mentioned on the news. Sometimes the justice system isn't enough, sometimes we need someone out there who is outside the law to make things right swiftly.
Where are the Punishers and Daredevils of the world?