Perhaps Donald Trump just needs to wear his goddamn glasses


Obama’s teleprompter


Fake President’s teleprompter

❝ There are few recorded instances of Trump actually wearing glasses, but many of the ones that do exist appear to have been taken when Trump thought no one could see…Might this all be because Trump himself is in desperate need of glasses? How much of the president’s erratic behavior could be because he simply prefers to be blind than to display any sort of weakness?…

❝ Another curiosity of the Trump presidency has been his approach to stairs. Almost every time he exits Air Force One, Trump can be spotted white-knuckling the guardrail as he stares intently at his feet. And in 2017, The Times of London reported that widely mocked photo in which Trump grabbed Theresa May’s hand was due explicitly to his fear of stairs…

❝ There’s no question that our president’s brain is broken, and that his mental acuity isn’t anywhere near what it once was. But perhaps it all isn’t quite as bad as we thought. Perhaps Donald Trump just needs to wear his goddamn glasses.

I spotted the fear of stairs long ago. My own eyes aren’t especially bad for my age; but, I also have [idiopathic] pedal neuropathy. There’s no associated illness – like diabetes. Just an old geezer with a percentage of overcooked nerves in my feet. Which is why I carry a cane on my daily walks. Never use it, just carry it in case I need to use it. BTW, About 6% of Americans are in the same boat. No big deal if you’re smart enough to deal with it and don’t let vanity get in the way.

Google and Amazon follow Apple’s lead on voice assistant review

❝ Apple on Thursday suspended its Siri grading program, which seeks to make the virtual assistant more accurate by having workers review snippets of recorded audio, after a contractor raised privacy concerns about the quality control process.

Now, Apple’s competitors in the space, namely Google and Amazon, are making similar moves to address criticism about their own audio review policies

❝ Shortly after Apple’s announcement, Google in a statement to Ars Technica on Friday said it, too, halted a global initiative to review Google Assistant audio. Like Siri grading, Google’s process runs audio clips by human operators to enhance system accuracy.

Unlike Apple’s Siri situation, however, a contractor at one of Google’s international review centers leaked 1,000 recordings to VRT NWS, a news organization in Belgium. In a subsequent report in July, the publication claimed it was able to identify people from the audio clips…

❝ Amazon is also taking steps to temper negative press about its privacy practices and on Friday rolled out a new Alexa option that allows users to opt out of human reviews of audio recordings, Bloomberg reports. Enabling the feature in the Alexa app excludes recorded audio snippets from analysis.

Many of the articles posted on this topic never mentioned anonymizing and using random quotes. I have no doubt the folks who produced those articles were aware of the practice. I imagine they decided that might diminish their sensational revelation.

Using anonymous clips used to be “good enough” – in my experience. Nowadays, with rising privacy standards acknowledged by most, Apple, Amazon and Google are changing practices with changing times.

Something else that will become “opt in” or “opt out”.

Funerals are now livestreamed — and families are grateful

❝ …There were friends who couldn’t travel and family members who lived too far away to make it in time for the service, which, by Jewish tradition, had to happen as soon as possible. But their chapel had a solution: It livestreamed the funeral, and uploaded a recording of the service to its website shortly after, with a hyperlink prominently displayed in the obituary…

❝ In a culture obsessed with tweeting and Instagramming every moment of life, it’s little surprise that streaming extends to death. Funeral livestreaming services have been around for more than a decade, but the practice has recently exploded in popularity, says Bryant Hightower, president-elect of the National Funeral Directors Association. He estimates that nearly 20 percent of US funeral homes now offer the service — a big number in an industry resistant to change — in response to demand from clients…

Close-felt examples, thoughtful reflection. I’ve always been useless at funerals. I don’t know that I feel emotions any more deeply than anyone else; but, I fail at containing them to the boundaries of what passes for American culture. The last time I flew instantly cross-country for a family funeral I ended up sitting alone in my sister’s home while the rest of my kin attended a wake, then the funeral the next day. My family has learned to accept how I am affected by grief and loss.

That I appear to be outliving most of my peers, close family, doesn’t help. So, they understand. Tell me to stay here in my own home – with my wife to console me directly. I guess I’ll start asking if ceremonies are streamed and/or available after the fact. I’d like to try that.

Mexico wins CONCACAF Gold Cup

Here are the winners


Click to enlarge

Bravo, Mexico! this was a hard-fought match between two North American teams. Both have been in re-building mode for appropriate reasons. They were very evenly matched. Personally, I have as about as much expertise as the average fan – who never played the game.

I have only two things to say about the match: 1. The difference to my mind was that Mexico played a better match at defense. 2. I went looking through the pages of GOOGLE for an appropriate photo of the Mexican team celebrating this match – and GOOGLE has done their usual crappy job of showing us anything outside the realm of screaming USA/USA. So, I used the online scoreboard.

I found a photo this morning more representative of the match result and added it to the post.

Our dog owns me every time she gives me “THE LOOK”


Our Sheila

❝ New research suggests that over thousands of years of dog domestication, people preferred pups that could pull off that appealing, sad look. And that encouraged the development of the facial muscle that creates it.

Today, pooches use the muscle to raise their eyebrows and make the babylike expression. That muscle is virtually absent in their ancestors, the wolves…

❝ The researchers believe dogs, over their relatively short 33,000 years of domestication, used this eye muscle to communicate, possibly goading people to feed or care for them — or at least take them out to play. And people, perhaps unwittingly, obliged.

No, she’s not winking. The Española Humane Animal Shelter where we found and adopted her said she was born with only one eye. Her loving look simply counts for twice as much.

Summertime is here

Installation by one of my favorite critters. Variously called balloon spiders or parachute spiders [generation dependent?] – they are tiny – and they spin out a long filament of their web into the wind till the lift is greater than their miniscule weight. Take off and fly like a balloonist until they reach a useful obstacle which they homestead.

Checked back through the blog and they’re 3 days earlier than last year. Pretty much always a June discovery and a solid sign of summer for me.