Wednesday Wow (Jan 6, 2021)

I’ve been in a state of anticipation over the state of Georgia. I wondered if I might possibly wake up to a Democratic Senate this morning. As of last night, the Blues were trailing slightly behind. This morning I find they’ve called for Raphael Warnock (“Ding Dong, the witch is dead”), and it’s looking good for Jon Ossoff.

Today is also the day Congress meets, presided over by the VP, to officially count the electoral votes. It’s the last hurdle in an election badly polluted by bald lies and Constitutional sedition. The corruption and filth of the GOP is far beyond the pale.

Hell of a Wednesday. We could probably use a distraction…

As with many people, optical illusions fascinate me. There is there sheer visual appeal — surprise and delight, almost like a joke, are a part of it. That our eyes can be tricked in so many ways is also part of the draw, I think.

Optical illusions also provide insight into how our brains process inputs from our nervous systems and create and present a coherent visual world to us. That we do have a generally accurate and (more importantly) useful map of our environment is an amazing feat of information processing.

Which is a whole other topic; today it’s more about the wow:

I hadn’t planned a post today, let alone a Wednesday Wow, but then I saw that video from the Veritasium YouTube channel (yet another I highly recommend for the scientifically inquisitive).

This Ames window (or trapezoid) illusion really impresses me. Even knowing exactly what’s really going on, the brain (at least my brain) still insists the window is only oscillating back and forth. Which makes the attached objects do really weird things!

I love that he built a life-sized version of the window!

(There is also some interesting stuff about Ames rooms. I hadn’t realized there are an infinite number of slices that look the same. The video is well worth watching.)


That I used a Veritasium video in the previous Wednesday Wow post is a testament to (at the least) how much I like the channel and (I would argue) how good the channel is. A number of his older videos are in my Favorites playlist.

As a bonus, here’s a (fairly esoteric) video of his:

The video’s description starts off, “The logistic map connects fluid convection, neuron firing, the Mandelbrot set and so much more.” As a big fan of the Mandelbrot, I think this is so cool.

I’ve had a note about doing a post on rxrx2 (the logistic map) on my board for a while. As the video indicates, it’s one of those bits of math that [A] shows up in myriad places and [B] fuels the “eerie effectiveness of math” fire.

§ §

As I write this Congress started the electoral vote counting process, and almost immediately stalled when the unamerican from Arizona objected. Fucking republican bullshit stinks so bad. Unbelievable to me that human minds can sink so low.

I can only hope, with a Democratic House, Senate, and Presidency, that there is some serious accountability for what amounts to sedition against our most sacred political process.

And think of it. A president so bad he loses the House (in two years) and the Senate and Presidency, all in a mere four years. Truly he is a loser, and it’s amazing people follow him at all. Talk about betting on a sick horse.

Groupthink blindness sure is powerful in some.

§ §

So here’s another distraction from the Astrum YouTube channel, which does some very attractive videos about space. Here’s one he did about the planet Uranus:

Which, as the video makes clear, is a bit of an oddball as planets go.

He also recently released a nice one about Saturn:

I miss Cassini, but it was a great space mission!

§ §

The Veritasium video makes an important point about simple rules resulting in complex behaviors (the Mandelbrot being a beautiful example).

Stephen Wolfram recently did a talk for the Royal Institute that doubly wowed me:

The first part (about 30 minutes or so) was, I thought, an excellent look at the nature of computation and how simple rules lead to complex outcomes.

I especially enjoyed seeing the elementary cellular autonoma. I’ve always wanted to play around with those. (You may have heard of Rule 30. Wolfram explores it in the video.)

Then he gets into his ideas about the nature of reality, and that wowed me in a different way. Suffice to say I’m not at all on board, although certain aspects of the idea might have turn out to have some value.

That aside, Wolfram has made great contributions to mathematics with his software, and you’ll see the power of some of that in the first part of the video. His software alone made me go Wow!

§ §

So now these assholes are storming the Capital egged on by Twitler. The parallels to pre-WWII Germany continue; one more example of how far this country has fallen. I’m too distracted by this fucked up bullshit to focus on writing.

I’ll say it again. Let’s just give, like, Alabama and Mississippi to these wastes of skin, let’s wall them in, and let them die in their own waste. The news anchors can’t believe they’re seeing this in the USA.

Yeah, no kidding.

But as my dear departed mom (God rest her soul) used to say, “This is where we are.” A country of uneducated self-centered morons.

§ §

More than ever:

Stay sane, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

16 responses to “Wednesday Wow (Jan 6, 2021)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Wow. When I began writing this, I thought the big story was the Georgia race, and the Congress counting the electoral votes was a bit of a side story. But no. These scabs on America’s political ass are still infected and weeping sores on the tatters of our long-held values.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      What exactly do they think is going to happen? What’s the end game? Or is it just the whining of infantile sore losers?

    • Wyrd Smythe

      No. It’s domestic terrorism, plain and simple. I really hope there’s some serious accountability for this. No reason there shouldn’t be. So much caught on video, and it’s a flagrant planned attack.

      After four years of this crap words fail and it seems impossible it can get worse and worse, but somehow it always does.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Insurrectionists cleared (for the moment), the process of government continues… Wow, what a day.

    Kinda lost in it all is the news that Georgia now has two Democrat senators, and the Democrats will control the Senate. (It’s a clean sweep. P45 lost it all in one term. Loser! Loser!)

    Speaking of which, Twitter banned Twitler for 24 hours. Supposedly they may ban him entirely. (I keep hoping his head literally explodes from apoplexy.)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Staying bearing witness to Congress doing its thing. Objections made about Michigan and Nevada both failed due to not having a signature by a Senator. Oh, ho!

    It’s kind of fascinating watching the ritual…

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Well, it’s finally official. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, 306 electoral votes. That other guy, the loser, 232. (Not to mention the winners’ 81 million votes compared to loser’s 74 million.)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    I got so distracted by watching an invading army rape and plunder the Capital that I cut the blog post off a bit short. I actually had some notes on the Wolfram video…

    Wolfram mentions how, as a physics researcher, he found computers very helpful in assisting his understanding of the physics he was studying. When he said that I flashed back to calculus class, which I took as an adult through work, and how I used my Commodore 128 to graph my calc homework, and that made what derivatives do very clear. Seeing was understanding, and one enormous thing computers have done is help us visualize data and science.

    Their value in that regard can’t be understated, and I have a post coming out relatively soon about it (look for: Age of the Algorithm). Anyway, that was Wolfram’s first point: computers have been game-changers.

    His second point involves complexity from simple rules. As the logistics map video from Veritasium illustrates (and as the Mandelbrot so beautifully illustrates), we see this happening in many places. The deeper point is that the complexity arises from computation. There must be a process that iterates over the simple rules to produce the complexity. (A key question is whether nature can leverage algorithmic processes.)

    Wolfram’s main point is that he thinks reality is fundamentally computational and is comprised solely of nodes and connections. (The graphic on the video illustrates his conception.) Personally (and ignorantly, since I’m going by first impressions) it feels like serious FBS to me. I have major questions about the ontology of the nodes and connections, and Wolfram seems to assign a lot of capability to them. So much so that I suspect the reason he’s able to derive the basic physics from it is that it’s based on the physics in the first place. It’s just some circular FBS.

    When he asserted that, in his model, Special Relativity (which derives from the model) was essentially a practical matter, not a fundamental limit, that was kinda it for me.

    I quit the video around the one-hour mark, but the first part I enjoyed. I was impressed by the computer power he’s developed, and I enjoyed seeing the elementary cellular autonoma demonstrated. Computational limits are a critical part of reasoning.

    Those cellular autonoma make me think of Wang’s Carpets, which is a fun idea but total BS. I mean, how would such virtual life forms evolve? What evolutionary path applies to such a thing? (But it really is one of my favorite clever SF ideas.)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Oh, here’s a good one: Joy Reid just pointed out that those who stormed the Capital are likely to align with the “Blue Lives Matter” rhetoric. Yet they were willing to injure police, one of whom has died.

    Just one more example of the astonishing hypocrisy of evil.

    Speaking of which: Ted Cruz. (Or, for that matter, Lindsey Graham.)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Oh, my! Twitter just suspended Twitler permanently! (Gee, what took them so long. [sigh])

    Zuckerbook had already closed his Facebook and Instagram accounts, and now no more Twitler on Twitter. Baby lost his favorite toys; watch out for the temper tantrum!

    (I am so seriously stoned on schadenfreude.)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Is it possible that Republican politicians, in an effort to buy grace and forgiveness, will flock to Impeachment? We are certainly capable of rushing to judgement, or leaping off cliffs, in the right circumstances, and I can see it happening here. Maybe.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I can see it even more now that McConnell seems very on board with the idea.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      OTOH, the GOP seems to be getting a second wind, so now I’m not so sure. 😦

      It’s hard to think about the country coming together. How do we “come together” with liars, racists, misogynists, and fascists? Once again I say, let’s just give them Mississippi and Alabama, build a wall around them, and let them be. (I suspect the problem will then correct itself and we’ll eventually get all that land back.)

      More realistically, how does a country come together when the two sides have come to utterly despise each other? (And make no mistake, I do despise these fucking piece of shits — these steaming worthless turds in the toilet bowl of politics. I say, one way or another, we flush them all.)

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