News headlines that caught my attention on or before 08/30/2022

I am continuing to read the book 38 Nooses about the Sioux Uprising out loud to Claudia. We are covering its aftermath now with five or six chapters to go. More on that in the next post. The brutal elimination of Native peoples from the Americas is continuing so that Brazalian ranchers can keep raising cattle where they have mowed down the Amazon forest and killed the Indians that still live there. Another story from yesterday was about the discovery that one of the last “uncontacted” tribes has suddenly disappeared. This has all be rushed by Brazil’s Donald Trump clone President Bolsonaro. He has given murderous and rapacious ranchers the go ahead to burn it all down so that they can supply cheap hamburgers to America. No doubt that will continue even faster since a massive draught is forcing American cattlemen in to cull their herds. I doubt this will be mentioned on New light Fox so here from the evil empire of the Washington Post is more unwelcome news:

And from National Public Radio just one of many recent stories about the long theorized and now imminent raising of the shoreline by MaraLago by another foot in a decade or two that apparently can not be stopped:

And for me a lighter story reconfirming the amazing pace of our use of computers to analyzing everything everywhere…..this is about animal communication: The Animal Translators

In recent years similar stories have amazed me of the animation of the future movements of our nearest million stars. This is a five year old link I think a billion stars movements have since been calculated by computer. This is five years before the Webb telescope’s entry and deployment in Earth orbit.

And for me personally here are two screen shots from this morning that give me hope our machine learning can help us figure out solutions to blunt the apocalypse that the Republican Party is so heedlessly ignoring in their fight to undermine our Democracy..

From Duolingo the second and third language learning ap on my cell phone:

What does it show?

I have been on Duolingo for five of its ten year run. When it was five years old it was under constant construction as its creators fine tuned it. I’m sure it had been impressively improved over its first five years. That change has never stopped often leading people to complain that it wasn’t doing what they expected. The changes did throw people for a loop, me included, but from the start what really interested me was how a combination of machine learning and the contributions of millions of users were combining to make it a seemless teaching tool. And it is a teaching tool. If anyone wants to know what is written in hundreds of languages that’s easy peasy. Just aim your cell phone camera and find the language you want translated and the language you want it translated into. ITS THE HUMAN BRAIN LEARNING that fascinates me. I sense with every change how my 70 unplasticized brain is getting directed to add the hundreds of French rules into 70 years worth of dependence on a different language. The image above shows the latest improvement. Each exercise can now be easily typed in by voice providing you speak the words correctly. In this case I didn’t have to type the french sentence in I spoke it in. I have only just gotten to the point I can get this done correctly once in five times. As I improve I should get it to fifty percent. By that time I’ll be able to go to any French speaking country and get along pretty well. As someone who hated math I’ll be very curious to see how Duolingo will approach math learning which is not on their horizon.

and there is this:

I have been nervous about my ability to get a good night’s sleep since I burned the midnight oil to give voters a chance to vote on the Red Plan in 2007. I complained about it regularly on the blog which if you type in “sleep” you will see. Over a year ago I discovered that my wife’s fit bit which I though wasn’t much more than a glorified pedometer counting her steps was actually giving her more info than I imagined including sleep info. I bought one myself and wore it to France a year ago and ever since. Getting back into a good sleep habit has taken time but where I was beginning to wake up 4 or 5 times a night I’ve lately slept through a whole night a couple times and like in the image below often broken my sleep into two sections of nearly five, six or seven hours when added together.

You can see I woke for a couple hours last night. I have gotten in the habit of killing my intense wakefullness in that lone break in my sleep by studying French. Last night instead of using Duolingo I watched episodes of Peppa the Pig in French. After five years I can finally follow the cartoon’s conversations. That’s been aided by Duolingo and three years with a daily French pen pal.

There is a lesson here after our two year assault on education to preserve vulnerable lives during the Covid epidemic. As more and more schools save money by going to four-day weeks and Zoom education there may be some very useful alternatives to doing things the way we did in the good old days. Of course trying to get out of the habit of not spending money on the poor would speed progress up but that will require an alternative to the proto-authoritarian, election-stealing rule of the current badly mutated Republican party.

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