July 10, 2007: Go

Oreo decided that he was getting up before seven this morning. He must be feeling better if he is that anxious to get off to doggie daycare! His appetite is back too. He is very visibly happier and healthier than he was last week.

Scott Adams pointed us today to an article from Quirkology on The Surname Effect and an interesting essay looking into how the effects of alphabetization discrimination may be affecting people.

Germany has passed a new law requiring foreign spouses to learn the German language before being allowed to move to Germany. This law has obvious exceptions like EU nationals and, if I was to guess, Americans and Brits although that may not be the case although English native speakers generally find German easy to pick up as they share a root tongue. Everyone is aware that the real underlying cause of this law is Germany large immigrant Turk population. The article is actually quite interesting and the spokesperson for the government has some very interesting points towards the bottom as to why this law is important in protecting the rights of spouses being “bought and shipped” into Germany. Their take appears to be that this law supports not just an improvement in the employment prospects of potential immigrants but is also designed to protect their human rights so that it is difficult for illiterate spouses from being kept as virtual slaves inside the home.

Go - Board Game

Don’t Pass Go, Don’t Collect $1 Million. This is an interesting article on why computers continue to be unable to effectively compete with humans at a game of Go and why artificial intelligence has such a long way yet to go. Perhaps, more importantly, it shows that we are not actually making artificial “intelligence” but simply building faster and faster calculators – which is not the same thing. Deep Blue didn’t beat Kasparov by “out-thinking” him, it beat him by calculating unbelievable numbers of possible moves ahead of time. It is a useful but completely different concept. Humans can’t do that and computers, so far, can’t “think” about the game. Go demonstrates this by creating a game, like chess, but with magnitudes more permutations making the brute force method used to beat humans at chess useless – for now.

Today was moderately busy. Nothing too strenuous.

I tried to eat lunch in the cafeteria today but the Lord protected me from eating badly prepared unhealthy mayonnaise based foods. The cafeteria staff here seem to have taken a pretty strong dislike to vegetarians and are actively being as rude as they can be to us – which is quite the stance to take at an office that is about half vegetarian and almost all are religiously vegetarian! It really comes down to a question of racism more than anything else. Mostly everyone who works here just avoids the cafeteria (run by Eurest, a UK firm) and eats elsewhere. The food isn’t good and the prices are sky high. And to infuriate us more they often will put secret signs on their cash registers saying that they are going to close early but put signs stating their normal hours on the doors so that they close without anyone knowing that they are going to close early unless those people have already eaten. It would appear that they probably don’t make money off of the food that they sell but get paid a flat operational fee and make their best margins by having no customers. So no food for me today. (This isn’t to say that there is NO way to eat there as a vegetarian the options are just very poor, expensive and not very healthy.) I am NOT eating a salad for lunch and taking that as an acceptable form of vegetarian cuisine. (Recently they have added some staff who speak no English at all and you have to point to everything that you want – because of this there are now very long lines to even find out that they have taken away all the vegetarian selections!!)

Dominica was hoping to see the new Harry Potter movie today so on her lunch break she drove out to Clifton and tried to get tickets to see the show. She was happy when she arrived because they had a sign saying that they had tickets. So she spent fifteen minutes standing in line to get them. But it turns out that the sign was just something that they put out and was not actively changed when they did or did not have tickets and they hadn’t had tickets that entire time but they were just hoping to rope her into seeing something else after having spent so much time in line! So no Harry Potter for us tonight.

If there is one thing that New Jersey completely fails at it is customer service. The workers in this state are so incredibly lazy and incompetent it is amazing that anything can get done here at all. People often comment to me on how hectic it is here and how different it must be from back home in Upstate New York. But I always comment that in reality most Upstaters don’t like coming down here because down here no work gets done and people are always running around providing the impression of being busy but it is just an impression. In reality people do very little work here. Productivity is not a priority. Give me the real “busy” lifestyle of Upstate NY anyday. I like to work hard and produce something. Not work hard looking like I am working hard.

Speaking of New Jersey I found out this morning that Abdul, whom I often take to lunch on Thursdays, robbed someone in my building yesterday! Just one more thing to deal with. Argh. Fortunately they caught him before he got away (not armed robbery, just grabbed something and ran for it.) So they got whatever it was back and he was arrested. We had previously forbid him to come into the building (for less dangerous reasons) but now he will be arrested if he trespasses – at least in theory. It is a difficult situation, obviously. Life in Newark isn’t always easy (I don’t mean for me.) But apparently Abdul just isn’t interested in getting help. The upside is that he won’t be able to come into the building and ask the concierge to page me anymore. He does this incessantly often in five to ten minute intervals in the evenings normally at a time when he knows that I am not yet home and then late at night when he knows I am getting ready for bed. He is also known for coming in to the building on weekends when he knows that I am out of town and having them call me on the road. So that is something that Dominica and I definitely won’t miss.

Did you know that people who follow the diet suggested by Sylvester Graham are known as Grahamites? Sylvester was an outspoken vegetarian and the inventor of the Graham cracker or Graham bread which is not a true cracker but a digestive biscuit. Graham was born in Connecticut and become a Presbyterian minister. But he was living in Bound Brook, New Jersey when he invented his famous “cracker.” I didn’t realize that he had lived in Bound Brook (where Dominica and I very seriously considered buying a condo and where I stayed when I first started working in Warren in March and April of 2006) when I started researching this clip. But that makes it so much more interesting!

I found an incredible picture of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario from space. You can clearly see New York’s Finger Lakes in the distance.

I worked a little late today and got home a bit after seven.  We ordered in Chinese take away from Golden City on Green Street (they ROCK) and watched some <em>Good Eats</em>.

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