Saturday, 31 December 2016

because you purchased Stonehenge

Another weird Amazon recommendation.

Maybe I could sharpen the blades on the large stones I seem to have purchased?

Friday, 30 December 2016

Artificial Epigenetic Networks

Our paper “Artificial Epigenetic Networks: Automatic Decomposition of Dynamical Control Tasks using Topological Self-Modification” has just been published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning Systems.  It has been available “early on line” for some time, but this is the official publication, with volume number and everything.
This paper describes the artificial epigenetic network, a recurrent connectionist architecture that is able to dynamically modify its topology in order to automatically decompose and solve dynamical problems. The approach is motivated by the behavior of gene regulatory networks, particularly the epigenetic process of chromatin remodeling that leads to topological change and which underlies the differentiation of cells within complex biological organisms. We expected this approach to be useful in situations where there is a need to switch between different dynamical behaviors, and do so in a sensitive and robust manner in the absence of a priori information about problem structure. This hypothesis was tested using a series of dynamical control tasks, each requiring solutions that could express different dynamical behaviors at different stages within the task. In each case, the addition of topological self-modification was shown to improve the performance and robustness of controllers. We believe this is due to the ability of topological changes to stabilize attractors, promoting stability within a dynamical regime while allowing rapid switching between different regimes. Post hoc analysis of the controllers also demonstrated how the partitioning of the networks could provide new insights into problem structure.
It is open access and can be found at doi:10.1109/TNNLS.2015.2497142

When I say it has been available on line “for some time”, I’m not kidding.  Look at the footnote on the first page:
Manuscript received February 17, 2015; revised October 19, 2015; accepted October 21, 2015. Date of publication December 24, 2015; date of current version December 22, 2016
The bibliographic information is:
Volume: 28, Issue: 1, Jan. 2017

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

reinforce the spots that don’t have bullet holes

Bruce Schneier on one aspect of security theatre:
Security Risks of TSA PreCheck 
PreCheck tells us that, basically, there are no terrorists. If 1) it’s an easier way through airport security that terrorists will invariably use, and 2) there have been no instances of terrorists using it in the 10+ years it and its predecessors have been in operation, then the inescapable conclusion is that the threat is minimal. Instead of screening PreCheck passengers more, we should screen everybody else less. 

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Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Carrie Fisher, 1956–2016

2016 ends as it began...
Carrie Fisher, Star Wars actress, dies aged 60
Long ago, but not so far away: I remember watching the first (and best) Star Wars (well before it was episode IV) back when I was a student.  Mind blowing then: yes, for the special effects, but especially for a heroine who did (some of) the rescuing.

60 is way too young to go, nowadays.

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Monday, 26 December 2016

cough cough coffee

Yes, English can be weird.  It can be understood through tough thorough thought, though.

see le banana split for more like this

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Sunday, 25 December 2016

sequestering carbon, one Christmas at a time IV

Here’s the books we got each other for Christmas.  Lots of fun reading for the New Year!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

sequestering carbon, several books at a time LXV

I had thought the previous batch was the last one before Christmas.  Actually, this one is:

More tomorrow!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

this is what novelists are for

What a marvellous speech, by Zadie Smith:
On Optimism and Despair 
If novelists know anything it’s that individual citizens are internally plural: they have within them the full range of behavioral possibilities. They are like complex musical scores from which certain melodies can be teased out and others ignored or suppressed, depending, at least in part, on who is doing the conducting. At this moment, all over the world—and most recently in America—the conductors standing in front of this human orchestra have only the meanest and most banal melodies in mind. Here in Germany you will remember these martial songs; they are not a very distant memory. But there is no place on earth where they have not been played at one time or another. Those of us who remember, too, a finer music must try now to play it, and encourage others, if we can, to sing along.

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Saturday, 17 December 2016

all change

I was reading a post where someone mentioned $1 seemed like a very small amount for an item in a story they had read.  A comment said this was set in 1966, and so would be about $7 today.

That seemed a very low inflation rate to me, having lived through the 1970s.  So I tried the linked inflation calculator.  £1 in 1966 is £17.46 in today’s money, which feels more plausible.  A combination of inflation and exchange rate changes.

(... although it will probably be more like £1746 in a few years time ...) 

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Friday, 16 December 2016

crossover heaven

laugh, and learn, at the same time!
SMBC : The Talk 
Shtetl-Optimized : The Talk

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Thursday, 15 December 2016

the Cost of Knowledge

The cost of signing the Cost of Knowledge pledge is ...

... essentially zero

Why I still won’t review for or publish with Elsevier–and think you shouldn’t either 
Elsevier is, of course, a large company, and one could reasonably chalk one or two of the above actions down to poor management or bad judgment. But there’s a point at which the belief that this kind of thing is just an unfortunate accident–as opposed to an integral part of the business model–becomes very difficult to sustain. In my case, I was aware of a number of the above practices before I signed The Cost of Knowledge pledge; for me, the straw that broke the camel’s back was Elsevier’s unabashed support of the Research Works Act. While I certainly don’t expect any corporation (for-profit or otherwise) to actively go out and sabotage its own financial interests, most organizations seem to know better than to publicly lobby for laws that would actively and unequivocally hurt the primary constituency they make their money off of. While Elsevier wasn’t alone in its support of the RWA, it’s notable that many for-profit (and most non-profit) publishers explicitly expressed their opposition to the bill (e.g., MIT Press, Nature Publishing Group, and the AAAS). To my mind, there wasn’t (and isn’t) any reason to support a company that, on top of arms sales, fake journals, and copyright violations, thinks it’s okay to lobby the government to make it harder for taxpayers to access the results of publicly-funded research that’s generated and reviewed at no cost to Elsevier itself. So I didn’t, and still don’t.

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Monday, 12 December 2016

wrong either way

This shows the need to think things through before taking potentially irrevocable actions:
Irish courts to be asked to intervene in Brexit legal process 
Maugham’s claim will also question whether Brexit was triggered in October when Theresa May told the EU council the UK would be leaving. Since then the EU has appointed negotiators and has been behaving as though the UK is on a departure trajectory, Maugham says. 
If it has been triggered then the commission is in breach of its treaty duties through wrongly refusing to commence negotiations with the UK, Maugham says. If it has not, the council and Irish state are in breach of their treaty duties in wrongly excluding the UK from council meetings.

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Sunday, 11 December 2016

0333 88 88 88 88

Okay, this looks useful.  I’ll give it a try.  First use: on a web query form to British Gas.


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Saturday, 10 December 2016

sequestering carbon, several books at a time LXIV

The latest batch, before the Christmas rush:

That puts the total count > 13,500

Friday, 9 December 2016

's truth

word of the day:

struthious : relating to, or resembling an ostrich ; bury one’s head in the sand

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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

it's not been a good year

Compare and contrast the composition.

Person of the Year 2016

Person of the Year 1938

Sunday, 4 December 2016

repeating an untruth makes it a truth

We need more like Grayling!

[Sorry about the ghastly buffoon-fest picture accompanying this – the stuff of nightmares!]
How you can turn a lie into a truth (according to the sinister Brexit playbook) 
I hesitate to use the term, but ‘coup’ comes to mind in relation to what has happened with the Brexit referendum. UKIP and the minority of the Tory party in Parliament knew they would never get a Brexit by Parliamentary means or at a general election; but at long last, having made life hell for every Tory Prime Minister since Edward Heath, they succeeded in getting one of their leaders to promise a referendum. And they then went to town with those manipulating lies and distortions – such as the £350million promise for the NHS, and massive misinformation about immigration – helped by their non-resident billionaire newspaper-owner allies. Having achieved a very small majority of votes cast on the day, actually constituting only 37% of the total electorate (26% of the British population), they have run with it as vigorously as they can, claiming it as an ‘overwhelming’ demand by ‘the people’ that both mandates and binds the Government to take the UK out of the EU. 
On the principle that repeating an untruth makes it a truth, they repeat and repeat their over-inflated claims about the support for Leave, trying to hustle everyone past the point of no return. The attempt by the Government to trigger Article 50 in haste without parliamentary debate is a stark indication of what coup leaders, who have been given responsibility for Brexit, are trying to do.

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Saturday, 3 December 2016

non-binding, advisory and consultative only

Three cheers for Grayling!

The reply A C Grayling got when he wrote to Parliament (and how he reacted) 
... the Government does not have a duty to implement the result of the referendum of 23 June. Briefing Paper 07212, sent to all MPs and Lords on 3 June 2015, in advance of debate on the 2015 Referendum Bill states unequivocally that the referendum is non-binding, advisory and consultative only, and imposes no obligation on the Government to act on its outcome. 
Likewise, the Referendum Act, which the Bill became, contains no clause obligating the Government to act on the outcome of the referendum.

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