Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 7th, 2017

Really great romcom movie movie, “America’s Sweethearts,” is on Amazon Prim

leave a comment »

John Cusack, Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal, Stanley Tucci, Catherine Zeta-Jones, et al. A really wonderful movie, IMO. I do have a weakness for movie movies, though.

And it’s on Amazon Prime.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 January 2017 at 7:03 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

Number spirals at Numberspiral.com

leave a comment »

If you read this page and you are like me, you keep reading…

Written by LeisureGuy

7 January 2017 at 5:42 pm

Posted in Math

Someone Is Destroying Online Go, And Nobody Knows Who It Is

leave a comment »

Only, as the article explains, now they do. Alex Walker reports on Kotaku.com:

Right now, there’s a player lurking in the depths of the online Go scene that is laying waste to some of the best players in the world. It’s called Master, and nobody knows who it is.

Update: The identity of the mystery account has finally been revealed – you can read all about it here.

The account is simply called “Master”, and since the start of the new year it has made a habit out of trashing some of the world’s best Go professionals. It’s already beaten Ke Jie twice, who is currently the highest ranked Go player in the world. AlphaGo, incidentally, is #2.

Not that the ranking stopped him from being battered, mind you. A European professional Go player, Ali Jabarin, wrote on Facebook that Ke Jie was “a bit shocked … just repeating ‘it’s too strong'”. Jabarin wasn’t sure whether the player was AlphaGo or not, but he was certain that an AI was behind the mystery account.

By January 3, the number of probably-but-we-can’t-officially-say AI sanctioned beatings had risen to 41-zip. There’s a few signs that it might not be an all-AI account, though. Jabarin received a polite message on New Year’s declining a match, and a post appeared offering around $US14,000 to any professional player who could beat it. . .

Continue reading.

More at the link, including one of the games Master played.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 January 2017 at 5:27 pm

Posted in Games, Go, Technology

Vietnam: The War that Killed Trust

leave a comment »

A thoughtful article on one of the things that set the US on its current course. Karl Malantes writes in the NY Times:

In the early spring of 1967, I was in the middle of a heated 2 a.m. hallway discussion with fellow students at Yale about the Vietnam War. I was from a small town in Oregon, and I had already joined the Marine Corps Reserve. My friends were mostly from East Coast prep schools. One said that Lyndon B. Johnson was lying to us about the war. I blurted out, “But … but an American president wouldn’t lie to Americans!” They all burst out laughing.

When I told that story to my children, they all burst out laughing, too. Of course presidents lie. All politicians lie. God, Dad, what planet are you from?

Before the Vietnam War, most Americans were like me. After the Vietnam War, most Americans are like my children.

America didn’t just lose the war, and the lives of 58,000 young men and women; Vietnam changed us as a country. In many ways, for the worse: It made us cynical and distrustful of our institutions, especially of government. For many people, it eroded the notion, once nearly universal, that part of being an American was serving your country.

Continue reading the main story

But not everything about the war was negative. As a Marine lieutenant in Vietnam, I saw how it threw together young men from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and forced them to trust one another with their lives. It was a racial crucible that played an enormous, if often unappreciated, role in moving America toward real integration.

And yet even as Vietnam continues to shape our country, its place in our national consciousness is slipping. Some 65 percent of Americans are under 45 and so unable to even remember the war. Meanwhile, our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our involvement in Syria, our struggle with terrorism — these conflicts are pushing Vietnam further into the background.

All the more reason, then, for us to revisit the war and its consequences for today. This essay inaugurates a new series by The Times, Vietnam ’67, that will examine how the events of 1967 and early 1968 shaped Vietnam, America and the world. Hopefully, it will generate renewed conversation around that history, now half a century past. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 January 2017 at 5:02 pm

Posted in Government, Military

Interesting column: Megyn Kelly’s move to NBC is a symptom of the network’s rightward movement

leave a comment »

Melanie McFarland has an intriguing column at Salon:

Historically, the month of January has been very good to Megyn Kelly.

In January 2014, three months after “The Kelly File” made its debut on Fox News, a fawning Elle magazine profile described her as “an almost self-parodically perfect apotheosis of her species, the FOX fox.”

In January 2015, New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg even coined a term for the anchor’s Blue Steel equivalent: The Megyn moment.

A Megyn moment, Rutenberg explained, “is when you, a Fox guest — maybe a regular guest or even an official contributor — are pursuing a line of argument that seems perfectly congruent with the Fox worldview, only to have Kelly seize on some part of it and call it out as nonsense, maybe even turn it back on you.”

He goes on: “You don’t always know when, how or even if the Megyn moment will happen; Kelly’s political sensibility and choice of subjects are generally in keeping with that of the network at large.”

Skipping ahead to January 2016 — past her game-changing turn as moderator of the Republican presidential debate, where she confronted Donald Trump on his sexist and questionable temperament — Vanity Fair’s Evgenia Peretz warned all blowhards that “Megyn Kelly Will Slay You Now.”

At last, here we are in January 2017, closing Kelly’s employment file at Fox News and witnessing the turn to the next part of her career with NBC News.

Gauging the extent to which the mediasphere shuddered at Tuesday’s news of Kelly’s departure from Fox to take a job at NBC, one would have thought that some natural disaster had knocked the world off of its axis. But the sun came up this morning, didn’t it? The earth still rotates. Maybe Matt Lauer can exhale a little over his weekend brunch.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Kelly’s leap from cable to a Big Three broadcast newsroom indicates a seismic shift that’s been rumbling under the crust for years. Mainstream broadcast and cable news has steadily veered to the right since Fox News aligned itself with the Bush administration after 9/11, as news organizations have done everything possible to capture some of the audience the conservative network has attracted.

NBC’s hiring of Kelly, one of Fox’s most popular personalities, is simply . . .

Continue reading.

There really does seem to be a mass cultural shift to the right—perceptibly so, and in any areas.

And in this connection, consider this passage from one of the movie discussions blogged earlier today:

If there is one thing that unites many of Trump’s voters it is a desire to “shake things up,” an understandable wish given the mess in Washington, but one that counts on the unspoken presumption, which history flatly and terrifyingly contradicts, that there is in effect a safety net under this country, that there is a limit to how bad things can get under any presidency, no matter how feckless. Viewed in that light, what’s the risk?

Hollywood has promoted this illogical protective idea throughout its history, insisting that this country’s citizens are the good guys, protected by John Wayne and the almighty and destined to always come out on top. The apocalypse, by definition, rains destruction only on other people.

That’s from Kenneth Turan’s perceptive essay, and you should definitely read the whole thing.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 January 2017 at 1:20 pm

Do we like the cultural values movies have taught us?

leave a comment »

The LA Times has a series of brief statements of various answers to the question, “Has Hollywood lost touch with American values?

You can go to the link above and scroll down through the stories, or read them individually:

From Mary McNamara’s piece:

. . . Long considered a bastion of pathological progressiveness and wanton liberalism (Remember the blacklist? The one not starring James Spader?), film and television were accused of obsessing too much about things like transgender rights and how many black actors got Oscar nominations and not enough worrying about the concerns of “real Americans”: Rust Belt unemployment, devotion to guns, fear of porous borders, disillusionment with government, feelings of personal alienation and a general sense of a world run amok.

How, many wondered, could the creators and arbiters of popular culture have been so out of step with the viewers and moviegoers they serve?

The answer is they weren’t and aren’t. Because there is no notion more thoroughly absurd than that of Hollywood’s liberal agenda.

Although many members of the entertainment industry espouse, often publicly, a left-leaning political slant, Hollywood is still dominated by white men who prefer to make movies and television shows that revolve around other white men — men beset by feelings of alienation, who often wield guns, who fight (or represent) corrupt government, and generally attempt to survive and/or save a world run amok.

Across galaxies, through the centuries, in every genre imaginable.

For every film that does not revolve around such a lead character, there are 78 others that do, just as for every series that features a transgender character, there are 8,000 that do not. . .

In the part not quoted, she notes that TV has done a better job than movies, but still a bad job.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

7 January 2017 at 12:30 pm

Texas offers bad questions on its standardized educational tests

leave a comment »

No real surprise: Texas in the state in which the GOP tried to make it illegal to teach critical thinking skills. But in this case the questions about two poems were so bad that the poet herself could not answer them. Valerie Strauss reports in the Washington Post:

Badly worded or poorly conceived questions on standardized tests are not uncommon (remember the question about a “talking pineapple” on a New York test in 2012?). But here’s something new: The author of source material on two Texas standardized tests says she can’t actually answer the questions about her own work because they are so poorly conceived. She also says she can’t understand why at least one of her poems — which she calls her “most neurotic” — was included on a standardized test for students.

The author is Sara Holbrook, who has written numerous books of poetry for children, teens and adults, as well as professional books for teachers. She also visits schools and speaks at educator conferences worldwide, with her partner Michael Salinger, providing teacher and classroom workshops on writing and oral presentation skills. Her first novel, “The Enemy: Detroit 1954” will be released March 7.

In this amusing but sobering post, Holbrook writes about the episode. This first appeared on the Huffington Post, and Holbrook gave me permission to republish.

The tests on which Holbrook’s poems appeared are the STARR, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. The questions were released by the Texas Education Agency. Teachers use past test questions to prepare students for future exams.

Click the link above (or here) to read Holbrook’s article.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 January 2017 at 12:17 pm

Posted in Books, Education, Government

%d bloggers like this: