Friday Morning: Get Smart

If yesterday was all about the stupid, today is smart — as in Get Smart. I usually explore a jazz genre on Fridays, but this morning’s theme took over and found its own — well, what else! — theme music.

This is the entirety of the piece from which the 1960s television spy comedy Get Smart was taken. The most recognizable parts of the theme occur after the 7:30 mark. Some of the video’s commenters called this variations on Get Smart, but I don’t think they realize bigger pieces are often used in TV themes and cut to fit. Compare to the honed and polished piece used on air.

And now let’s get smart.

Smart technology with a goofy name
Google released as open source its SyntaxNet — a neural network framework for development of natural language systems. With this anyone can develop their own voice-activated natural language systems. Google’s already done the work on an English language parser called Parsey McParseface. Goofy name, but it’s incredibly accurate at picking apart English as we use it.

What I want to know: is this English language parser based on SyntaxNet the tool Google’s AI team has been feeding romance literature to teach it human speech? Parsey McParseface has already been fed the English version of the Wall Street Journal and Penn Treebank newswire sentences, but human speech is more irregular and colloquial than those written texts.

Get smart about the global technology gap
This is a nifty test and educational graphic pairing by New Internationalist. Amazing how many people have high-speed internet (less than you may think) and how few have access to clean water or toilets (far more than you may think).

Smart move: London’s new mayor enlarges clean air zone
Unlike that sad clown Boris Johnson, Sadiq Khan doesn’t mess around, wasting no time on saving Londoner’s lives with expansion of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone. Roughly 9,500 of them die each year due to air pollution. But why limit the number to be saved to some fraction of that number, discriminating against a portion of London drivers who will now pay a fee for driving polluting vehicles? At some point, the issue of VW’s emissions standards cheating passenger diesel cars must enter the equation, too. Could Khan ban them until they are “fixed”?

Smart statement, rather too late
Perhaps if David Petraeus had worked against anti-Muslim sentiment before he blew up his moral authority he might be taken as seriously as he should be.

Get smart about history: on rhubarb and women’s wear

  • Fascinating look at the “rhubarb triangle” in Yorkshire UK (Guardian-UK) — Wow. Did not know they forced rhubarb, let alone harvested by candlelight. Really old school ag, this. Probably UK-only, but the popularity of rhubarb as an alternative to fruit in WWII surely shaped US’ rhubarb farming.
  • Women’s skirt lengths, men’s facial hair influenced by late Victorian science (Smithsonian) — Didn’t know this either, that the fad for trailing skirts in mid-Victorian era died off because of concerns about tuberculosis’ spread. Also didn’t realize “heroin chic” had a predecessor in consumptive women’s appearance. Men’s facial hair, though? Germ factories, just waiting for the development of the safety razor.
  • 31 years ago, Philadelphia police exterminated a family (Films for Action) — This is still as horrifying today as it was then. The dead included five children, murdered by law enforcement.

And yes, this is not a smart observation or point, but it’s Friday the 13th
The smartness is in Longreads’ three lunch-sized stories about superstition. Coincidentally, that’s one read each for today, Saturday, and Sunday.

I’ll see you Monday morning right here if I don’t get hit by lightning or a beer truck. Have a good weekend!

18 replies
  1. by the lakeshore says:

    ACLU Michigan Q&A w Hurley Medical Center pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha Who Proved Flint’s Water Was Poisoning Its Children

    Initially, Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration stridently attacked her study. However, once political leaders realized Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s findings were unassailable, they soon began to acknowledge the veracity of her work. She had proven beyond any doubt that the water supply in a city of nearly 100,000 people had been polluted with a powerful neurotoxin – and that that contamination was exacting a heavy toll on the city’s most vulnerable population.

  2. Ian says:

    I have taken the liberty of updating the latest answer on a question RAYNE had originally asked way back in the ‘Dark Ages’—well really it was just THURSDAY MAY 5,2016 under the title:
    Has the revolution begun? Shareholders protest Reckitt Benckiser’s [plc] CEO compensation (Bloomberg) — Is this the beginning of a trend?
    I had commented that the two[2] companies mentioned in the Bloomberg report were both i) British plc’s,[Reckitt Benckiser plc & BP plc] (i.e. not US organized corporations) with ii) a specific collection of British institutional investor’s who had loudly disputed iii) the claims of the need to pay the two[2] CEO’s involved extraordinarily large sums for a very poor performance
    EARL OF HUNTINGDON (May 9,2016 at 7.53pm) had very wisely reminded us all that:
    ………” As for CEO pay packets, the issue is not whether competent CEO-candidates exist who would take a fraction of the exuberant pay demanded by CEOs and the industry of pro-higher pay advisers they employ. The “uniqueness” of current CEO’s is a myth. What’s more a stumbling block is the pliability of most boards. A good CEO’s first job is always to ensure that she has a pliant board that will back her unless and until she runs the company into the ground. Even when that happens, the CEO is paid handsomely to go away quietly and shut up forever. Getting stronger, more demanding boards, whose members are willing to demand more of their peers than an invitation to the club, is the tough challenge” ……….
    By Friday May 13,2016 at 7.15am[London time][0215hrs EST] the FINANCIAL TIMES ( itself had produced a grand summary of the revolt/revolution (complete with graphics) occurring in the Spring 2016 round of Annual General Meetings covering the affairs of plc’s [public limited companies] organized under the [British] Companies Act(s) and the interaction of [Private/Retail/Small] Shareholders, Institutional Investors, Boards of Directors & CEO’s and the senior Managers of a significant % of the FTSE 100 companies
    The article/summary is found at under the title of “UK companies switch to listening mode as heat rises on top pay” reported on by: David Oakley, Michael Pooler and Scheherazade Daneshkhu—again reported at 7.15am[London time] on Friday May 13,2016
    The points made were:
    i) Under the updating of the governing law (Companies Act—2006 [version]) many major corporations were required both by law & also as part of their Listing Agreement with the London Stock Exchange to: a) since 2002 hold a NON-binding Shareholders vote to specifically approve the POLICY of how to pay both senior officers and also members of the Board of Directors and b) since 2012 at a minimum of “once-every-three-years” a BINDING vote upon the Company itself, upon the Board of Directors & upon the Senior Staff upon BOTH the amount & also the POLICY for Total Remuneration. The headline votes covering anywhere from 7%-15% of all FTSE 100 & FTSE 250 companies were for rejecting both the non-binding “this year-but just you wait until next year when it becomes a binding vote” and also the binding vote(i.e. “you must cut that man’s pay immediately”—as happened to BP plc CEO [US citizen] Bob Dudley.

    ii) To provide the “business case”/the intelligent person’s case/the data-driven decision, a variety of research studies across multiple nations, were located that showed only a very, very small % of CEO’s felt the need to be compensated solely by money, by $, and there was a disturbing collection of research studies that showed THAT type of CEO was a net COST to the shareholders—NOT a net BENEFIT.

    iii) In order to stop these sorts of votes becoming just a “protest vote”/ a bomb thrower’s vote with no ability to change the underlying problem/the underlying corporation a major consortium of Institutional Investors called the Investment Association [] had published a [sort of ] “How to organize a senior corporate person remuneration” guide entitled “ EXECUTIVE REMUNERATION WORKING GROUP ISSUES INTERIM REPORT” –
    THURSDAY 21 APRIL 2016—-again at
    The key point here is that, as long-term investors, they knew from experience, that there should NOT be a single, one-size-fits-all policy & practice –but different styles of practice for different industries & companies.
    a) a legal environment that recognizes ONLY shareholders can out-rank CEO’s & their pliant Board of Directors
    b) the Legal Right to do just that
    c) A consensus across shareholders that the “ancien regime” is a broken system, a failure etc
    d) An alternative plan that is Business rational/evidence based/ perceived as better than the “broken” ancien regime
    and, in the City of London at least, you are seeing some significant changes.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Nice comment.
      “Shareholder democracy” (akin to the application of the American Constitution), is only supposed to work when private equity managers own the shares. Otherwise, f**k off. Shareholders are, however, not obliged to agree with management and their board, let alone with the legion of sycophantic advisers they employ.

  3. bloopie2 says:

    In the “not smart” category, unfortunately. This has got to be the most cliché-ridden, sports-people-are-well-notsmart article ever. Doc Rivers may be good at basketball but he really should not have given this interview. Not smart.

    PS: Rayne, thanks for pointing out to this idiot that you were focusing on the second definition of “stupid” the other day. I was too, well, stupid to realize same. Fun!

  4. by the lakeshore says:

    state of michigan is trying to weasel out of doing anything to help the residents of Flint

    A federal judge in Detroit heard arguments on a lawsuit stemming from the Flint water crisis Friday.

    This lawsuit demands wants the state and city to move faster — and do more than they’re currently doing — to make Flint’s water safe.

    That includes replacing all the city’s lead service lines.

    State lawyers said there are a number of reasons they shouldn’t have to go that far, including the fact that it would be costly.

    Flint resident Melissa Mays is one plaintiff in the case.

    She says when that cost argument came up, she flashed back to when the state argued Flint couldn’t afford to go back to using Detroit water — something they were eventually forced to do.

    “Just like when we begged to get off of the Flint River and go back to Detroit, and their answer was ‘No, it’s too expensive,’” Mays said. “The fact that that got brought up in court … I’m just sitting here going ‘no no, no you don’t.’ We’ve heard this before, that doesn’t work.’

    “And the fact that they’re trying to put a price tag on people’s health, and their futures? That’s just absurd.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Flint is, of course, the poster child. Its water problems alone are mirrored in many cities. Washington, DC’s water should be included in a chemistry set labeled, “lead”. Baltimore, most of Jersey, coastal Philadelphia, ad nauseum have similar water system troubles. These are usually addressed through attempts at more aggressive filtration, rather than systemic solutions. Flint proved this does not protect against poisons that enter between the plant and the tap, or protect from negligence or malmanagement. Systemic solutions that provide enduring quality cost money, requiring taxes the wealthy would rather not pay. Govt provided solutions that work are also non sequiturs in the neoliberal world; its proponents strongly discourage them and root them out when found. Besides, what’s wrong with Aqua Deco or Tasmanian rain water, for heaven’s sake?

    • Ian says:

      Thank you by the lakeshore for the link to the News Report of May 14,2016.
      For non-Michigan residents can I recommend the “intelligent layperson’s analysis” complete with graphics and maps and simplified charts covering the entire USA found at the FINANCIAL TIMES on MAY 11,2016 under the title “AMERICA’s MIDDLE CLASS MELTDOWN” by Shawn Donnan & Sam Fleming.
      The Pew Research Center “ shares with” the Financial Times[*] (& & its continuing series charting the shrinking number of “middle income Americans” and the May 2016 study is the latest in the series. Readers of the Financial Times worldwide have been kept up to to date about the changing fortunes of the various sections of the US populations for many years now.
      Again using your search engine to link the article:
      *— says: “The Financial Times has an average daily readership of 2.2 million people worldwide (PWC audited figures, November 2011). has 4.5 million registered users and over 285,000 digital subscribers, as well as 600,000 paying users. FT Chinese has more than 1.7 million registered users.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Yup, and not just the middle class is shrinking. The top 10% is also taking a hit in favor of the top 1% (although they feel their hit much less than everyone else), as is suggested by the number of houses for sale in very upscale Birmingham, Bloomington, and Gross Pointe.

    • martin says:

      quote”Michigan tops nation in shrinking middle class, study shows.”unquote

      OMG. No wonder! The area I live in is the remaining imbred, dumb, stupid, idiotic redneck moron dickheaded dumbfuck asshole fuckface pricks who haven’t got a fucking clue how goddamned stupid they really are. Someone should drop a walking dead bomb here. Sheezushfuckinchrist… brain sucking alien parasites would starve in Lake County.

  5. bevin says:

    ““And the fact that they’re trying to put a price tag on people’s health, and their futures? That’s just absurd.”

    And the fact that they are still trying to make money off the water system is particularly absurd. The state is surrounded by water which, given a modicum of self restraint and respect for the environment could be as pure as any on the planet.
    Instead the lakes are sunk in filth, water levels are falling, and thousands of homes are being cut off from the systems because water costs more than, I’m guessing, most desert areas and, thanks to stupidity and cupidity living standards have been falling steadily since Michael Moore was a promising youngster.
    I was inclined to blame the Repulsive Party but then I realised that the Democrats and, even the Trade Union movement had probably both played as least as important a role as the Automakers and the thing that gave birth to the Governor and his substitutes for popular sovereignty.

  6. by the lakeshore says:

    “This was a hate crime” Michael Moore tells Bill Maher that GOP’s “race hatred” caused Flint crisis

    “This is not a lead issue, this was not even an infrastructure issue,” Moore explained. “This was a decision made by a Republican governor to give the rich in Michigan a billion-dollar tax break.”

    Moore said that to compensate for the hole in the budget, state officials decided to take Flint off of the much more sanitary Great Lakes water supply and forced residents to drink from the toxic Flint river water.

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