Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Check the Jury pool

I was called up for Jury Duty and want to share my thoughts on the experience.


The judge in our orientation video was bragging about how fair the jury system is. The video mentioned a few times that it was so important for us to be there – waiting specifically inside the jury pool room. They had books for us to read, some cat puzzles, chess and trivial pursuit. Twenty odd strangers in the room at  8:30am – it was dead silent. After maybe four hours I took my headphones off and noticed that the room was still dead silent.

I spoke up and asked if anyone wanted to play chess ... more silence, now awkward ... finally a nice older man said "are you going to play with imposant and all that?" then agreed to a match. It was a delicate glass chess set, with a rook missing and a cracked bishop that couldn't stand up. Another juror gave us some paper and we improvised new pieces. Since the silence had broken, people all over the room began talking about their kids. My chess opponent blundered because it was difficult to see the paper pieces.

A judge came in to make an announcement – wearing those fancy robes like they do. The lawyers had settled the case without going to trial, but she didn't want us to feel like we came in for nothing. She told us that the lawyers only settled because of the hanging threat we posed. The thought that all of us random jurors could stop pooling down in the basement and become empaneled to pass judgement struck fear in both sides of the legal entanglement. Our "common sense" would have the final word, no matter what evidence – in fact no matter what the law states. Our jury pool was a stochastic killing ax held high by the judge; and I was struck by the plainness with which it was explained.

They wanted us to feel that our role was meaningful. But like a piece in that broken chess set, I played a pawn in the Massachusetts Court System.


[Juror orientation video]

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Eagle at Tranquility Base now has an AirBNB review

It has been a couple days and the Lunar Lander is still up on AirBnb.
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/36977025

And now - my friend Daniel has left an official review! (This is the second time Daniel has been featured on the blog!)





Monday, July 22, 2019

The Eagle at Tranquility Base now on AirBnb

Happy 50th anniversary of the first Apollo Moon Landing! It has been fun watching the whole mission in pseudo-real time on this website: https://apolloinrealtime.org/11/

To celebrate I posted the Apollo 11 Lunar Module on AirBnb here (recommended you go quick because rooms are filling up and the mission could be cancelled at any moment):
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/36977025

"Local activities include walking around, driving around, rock hounding and golfing."
Thanks fellow bloggers Aryeh and Eli for contributions!

For posterity - here are some screenshots:






Sunday, June 23, 2019

Meeting Richard Stallman

I ran into Richard Stallman recently, the founder of the GNU Project! We were attending a future of transportation public meeting and he was advocating for transportation free from tracking by government / corporations. I asked him for a photo and he said it would be OK as long as I turned off the location settings so the image of him wouldn't be tracked. So I turned off location settings and put the phone in airplane mode too. Richard Stallman closed his eyes so that they couldn't scan his retina - or he blinked, not sure.

Anyway, Google was way too smart - and when I looked up the photo I noticed that it had "estimated" the location to be exactly where it was taken. So I manually changed the location to the city where I live ... according to my facebook ... the lovely island of St. Helena. The person blocked out in "people" is me (unlabeled) and not Richard - which is a good sign tracking-wise.


Below is the little manifesto that he was handing out, I have huge respect for the man and what he is working towards.



Tuesday, April 09, 2019

How to improve the NYC skyline

Recently I've been working on an artistic visualization of data project so my mom showed me this incredible video advertisement meant to be played on Samsung TV's to show off how 4K they are.



Towards the end they show a shot of a beautiful city skyline at sunset... beautiful except that something felt wrong with the main building - what kind of architect wouldn't put a spire on top of a building like that?


Checking Google Earth we can see the photo was probably taken from the top of Rockefeller center in NYC. A very instagram famous spot which you can recognize immediately in the still from the Samsung movie.

Borrowing a photo from jenonajetplane and ezgif.com we can do the split frame and see everything they changed. This one is taken from a slightly lower angle - probably the instagram window as apposed to the rooftop view.


The Bank of America Tower lost its antenna along with the savagely mutilated Empire State Building and freedom tower off in the distance. The Jersey City skyline remains unchanged including 30 Hudson St. but the Statue of Liberty is gone. Finally, the sun should be setting much further to the right (West).

Now that we've established that these Samsung animators are simply taking instagram famous locations and adding super-saturated colors ... I'd really like to go visit those flying forestbacked turtles.