Archive | March, 2016

Weekly Wine – Dry White

30 Mar

SONY DSCFrench Cross Vidal
Year: N/A
Canada
1000ml
12% ABV
$9.95 (LCBO)

One can by cynical about this wine.
Yes, it is wine in a box. Yes, It is a blend made from domestic and foreign wines. Yes it is created to be just under 10 bucks so as to hit a specific buyer.
All fair points.
The wine reflects these points. It is OK – drinkable as the marketers say. The taste won’t offend – it is a nice blend that does not have any off flavours or nasty after tastes. It is pleasant but not outstanding. It is forgettable in fact. It is better than the stuff you make at a Make-Your-Own-Wine place … but then again it costs a bit more and it should be better.
But all that being said – I don’t mind this wine because it is true to itself.
This is camping wine. This is take the wine up the hill skiing to enjoy the nice warm sunshine on the hill in the snow. This is outdoor wine.
This is honest plonk and should be enjoyed for what it is.

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Artificial unintelligence

28 Mar

Artificial intelligence.
The new great beyond.
There used to be a joke that there must be intelligence in outer space because there is no intelligence on earth. Artificial intelligence is the same way – we must create artificial intelligence because we do not show any of this trait amongst ourselves.
This would actually be a great segue to the primary campaign in the Unites States right now.
But this isn’t.
Microsoft recently created a virtual bot, a chatbot, to engage the youth in what interests them. It was designed to interact with 18-24 year olds on all social media platforms. The chatbot, called TAY, was to get all its learning from the internet chatrooms that are frequented by this demographic.
The chatbot lasted 24 hours before Microsoft took it off line. In these few short hours, this naïve empty artificial intelligence vessel was filled with such hate and vitriol that it staggers the mind.
It espoused Nazism, genocide, homophobia, xenophobia, racism, and misogyny according to reports.
Microsoft took Tay offline for some adjustments.
The only question is – do the people that designed Tay not have access to the internet? Have they never gone online to social media and read what is being written? You don’t need to go far – any news item’s comments section quickly devolves to racism, misogyny or crude sexual, political or religious opinion. I rarely go to comments sections because of this. But did the designers of Tay not know this?
What kind of adjustments will the folks at Microsoft make – filters? Send Tay to school? Have a few humans work in the background for a while?
This episode shows we are still a long way from artificial intelligence. We will have to rely on the intelligence that we have. After all, it has gotten us this far.

Cold Swan

27 Mar

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It always amazes me to see swans swimming in icy water.

Weekly Vinyl – Ponty

25 Mar

Enigmatic Ocean
Jean-Luc Ponty
(1977)
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One of the reasons I got into listening to Jean-Luc Ponty was because I, like him, played the violin. He is, obviously, much better violin player than I ever was and ever even hoped to be.
I never really wanted to play the violin, but I guess Mr. Ponty really did – and he excels on the violin.
This album is a clinic for virtuosity – he really plays excellently. At times the notes on the violin are coming at you at a furious pace… at other times it is quite sublime. But the technical excellence of the music on the album leaves me a little cold. Where’s the heart? Where’s the soul?
I tried to pick a favourite track on this album and I could not really do that – they are all similar in spirit and in technique. What I did realise, reading the liner notes, was that Ponty was not the only soloists on this album. There are guitar solos from Allan Holdsworth and Daryl Stuermer – both very accomplished guitarists in their own right. There are moments in some songs where you hear guitars swapping solos with Ponty’s violin, especially in the title track Enigmatic Ocean. This is really cool, especially considering you have to really listen carefully to distinguish between violin and electric guitar.

Weekly Wine – Bicycle

23 Mar

SONY DSCCono Sur Bicicleta Viognier
2015
Chile
750ml
13.5% ABV
$9.95 (LCBO)

I thought I did this wine but I could not find it when I searched my blog.
Good for me.
The Cono Sur wines are an inexpensive line of wines from Chile and they tend to be fairly good. They were even recommended by a sommelier on a call in show on CBC radio as a good inexpensive wine to serve at a wedding. I have never had an issue with this wine except for the fact that in some circles it might not be appropriate to bring this wine as a guest because the brand is well known.
But this wine is the first one I have issues with from this line. The first taste is an explosion of fruit and then a harsh acidic dryness wipes the fruit flavour out. I had a few more glasses to be sure but this did not alter the fact – it tastes like a cheap wine.

Pity.

Cuba

22 Mar

I’ve been to Cuba twice – both times for beach vacations.
Both times the resorts, while beautiful and great, were in the middle of nowhere.
They were too far for a trip to Havana.
It is hard for me to realize that a US president beat me to Havana.
Good job President Obama…

Beach chairs

20 Mar

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Evening is approaching and the beach chairs are askew.
The season in the Caribbean is coming to an end is well.
We’ll be pulling out our beach chairs in the north pretty soon.