Maggie Roche

R.I.P.

Apropos

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As a young man, running was right up there with hitch-hiking as one of my favourite things to do. By the time I was in my mid-twenties several of my running partners could no longer run; their knees or feet or back had finally buckled; road-running’s no good on the joints. I knew that my time could be up in a day or a year or in ten years.

One day while visiting my parents in Fairport, NY, I went out for a long run down by the Erie Canal, then along some paths dividing farmers’ fields, then out to my old high school. It was a hot hot HOT; and no wind; it was *lovely*. Heading home on Ayrault Road I was running up a hill and felt the sun just burning the back of my calves; this elated me. I knew how lucky I was to be able to run. I knew that I had enjoyed every step of every run in my life.

Then I realized something. I saw into my future, to a time when I would no longer be able to run: I would have no regrets, because I had never taken my gift, such as it was, for granted. I had always thanked my lucky stars.

Sometimes I find myself running in my dreams – and when I do, I *know* that I am dreaming; I am having a lucid dream, and I can run anywhere I want. And *do* – having been given a gift from my younger self and from the magic of life.

Whiteboard insight

When I went back into my bedroom just now, I noticed that I had written something on the whiteboard next to my bed. I hazily remembered waking up last night in the middle of a dream and thinking, “Ooooh, this is really important. Write it down or you will forget.” This is what I wrote down: “Chocolate control technology!”

Three Days

“I can’t say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.” – Daniel Boone

Anthony Bourdain

The world is filled with bad choices, made in pressured times.”

I am now a Luddite

It was just a matter of time.

As someone who spent his prime driving years in Buffalo, NY, the notion of self-driving cars has struck me as pretty absurd. Thus far the guidance systems for these cars tend to miss potholes and black ice. They are hardly better at avoiding lurching pedestrians, like drunken revellers hopping across busy streets from one bar to another (or jumping off a balcony and hoping to hit a snowbank but missing).

Uber’s attempt to test-launch its autonomous vehicles in San Francisco this month did not go well.

Without permits from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the company rolled out self-driving cars in San Francisco, albeit the kind that have a human pilot in the front seat just in case. The cars were almost immediately caught running red lights and stop signs and barely missing pedestrians, prompting the DMV and state Attorney General Kamala Harris to demand that they cease operations. Uber refused, citing an “important issue of principle.”

Days later, Uber acknowledged that the vehicles have a problem with unsafe turns across bike lanes, something they knew in pre-launch tests before placing the cars on roadways with lots of bikes, like in San Francisco. It must have been an important principle or something. Eventually, Uber bugged out of San Francisco after the DMV revoked registration on all its vehicles. But don’t weep for Uber: Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey welcomed them into the state for a pilot project in Phoenix.

Maybe concerns about beta-testing robotic steel projectiles alongside American citizens amount to mere griping. But it actually reveals a core conundrum with this whole self-driving car model. Most experts on autonomous vehicles believe that only real-world field tests, not simulations, will refine the technology so it can interact with often imperfect and irrational humans without killing them. Yes, ordinary humans kill 35,000 people a year while driving, but I suspect people will have far less tolerance for machine errors leading to similar levels of carnage.

h/t eschaton

Sociability

From Clarissa’s blog:

Sociability is difficult not because it’s hard to socialize but because I never know if my sociability switch will turn on at any given time. When I approach people or people approach me, there are two possible scenarios:

  1. Sociability switch flips, and I become the most charming, gregarious, exciting person ever.
  2. Sociability switch decides to remain inactive and I feel intolerable boredom. I can try to conceal it but the boredom is overwhelming.

The bad part is that I can’t predict when each scenario will unfold. I don’t suffer from not knowing how to engage with people or how to make small talk. I’m actually great at it because I don’t understand the concept of worrying what people think about me. What I do suffer from is frequent and uncontrollable attacks of not wanting to engage.

It feels very weird when in the middle of a conversation I lose all interest and become extremely bored but not because of anything the other person said or did.

It’s equally disturbing when I open my mouth and all of a sudden this very charming, talkative persona appears.