CHRIS ON RAILS

a personal weblog of everything nice

The Office is back with Season 4 – SPOILERS September 28, 2007

Filed under: Jenna Fischer,Rashida Jones,The Office — allyouneediscourage @ 5:43 pm

The Office Season 3 NBC Official Wallpaper 

The Office Season 4 premiered on NBC with a one hour long episode yesterday.  First episodes for The Office get better and better, and each time the Jim and Pam relationship has been building.  In the first episode of Season 1, we had Michael introduce us to The Office and we got a taste of what the show would be like.  In the first episode of Season 2, Michael takes the office out for the yearly awards and Pam kisses Jim for the first time.  In the first episode of Season 3, we see that Pam didn’t go through with her wedding and Oscar is outed as a “fag”.  Finally in the first episode of Season 4, Michael hits Meredith with his car and for the first time Meredith takes a front seat role in the series.  We see Pam and Jim kiss again and we find out that they are dating.  It’s taken 3 seasons for this Jim and Pam awkwardness to end.

Some thoughts after seeing the first episode…

Ryan is in corporate now and he finally takes on his evil role.  In the past, he’s set the office on fire, complained about his position multiple times, speaks poorly about Dunder Mifflin at his business school, eggs a client’s building when he doesn’t get a deal, is happy that Michael’s office gets shitted on, secretively goes for the corporate position, and happily dumps Kelly once he gets the position.  Apparently in episode 2, Ryan will come back to try and bring Dunder Mifflin to the digital age.  Finally!

Michael still acts exactly the same.  It’s hard to describe Steve Carrell’s acting style in The Office, but his character always has these quirks that are in almost every episode…  For example…”Shhhhuut it” and his maniacal laughter.

Now that Jan is out of a job, she is more influenced by Michael.  She’ll take on more of his personality traits.

Angela shows emotion at the loss of her cat…probably for the first time since Dwight left the office for an episode in Season 3.

Creed is taking on a more proactive role.  I’m sure we won’t be seeing him say just a line or two an episode.

Pam and Karen Season 3 Benihana Christmas episode

Unfortunately one of my favorite plotlines involving Pam and Karen has ended…or has it?  Karen told Jim that even though they’ve broke up, she isn’t going anywhere because she’s worked so hard.  Then her desk is cleared the next day and the whole thing seems too abrupt…  Knowing how The Office works, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Karen.

 Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly in The Office

Rashida Jones as Karen Filippelli in The Office

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The world might be flat or on turtles. September 19, 2007

Filed under: Art,Funny,Humor,Metaphysics,Turtles All The Way Down — allyouneediscourage @ 10:14 pm

Finally I get the chance to relate a little story to something that’s happened recently.  The picture is from http://www.lostgarden.com/index.html and is painted by Danc.  It’s the best picture I’ve seen that illustrates this joke of infinite regression.  Beautifully drawn!

Turtles All The Way Down drawn by Danc of http://www.lostgarden.com/index.html

Here’s the most popular version of the story.

A well-known scientist (some say it was the philosopher Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the Earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.

At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.”

The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?”

“You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”

There are actually people like Sherri Shepherd from The View who might not know if the world is round or flat.  After watching this video, I’m sure she would believe the story above.  Just read some of the comments that I’ve chosen and watch the video.

“By the way, there are people whether you agree with them or not…there are people who do not believe in an almighty God.”

“I never thought about it Whoopi…is the world flat?  I’ve never thought about it.”

“Do we get energy from the sun?”

“Baby…we gotta goto the library and find some books.”

How can you be on a show like The View and speak so intelligently?

 

What is the Technological Singularity? Part 1 of 3. September 14, 2007

Filed under: A.I.,Artificial Intelligence,Technological Singularity,Technology — allyouneediscourage @ 11:55 pm

Fractal Black Hole

The Technological Singularity is a hypothesized point in the development of a scientific civilization where artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence.  It’s about more than becoming self-aware, it’s about machines replacing humans because they will have become so advanced that humans cannot meaningfully direct their progress.  What does that mean?

In the worst case, some brilliant inventor will create AI that will recursively augment its mental abilities and then for some reason it will turn hostile.  We’ve seen it in Terminator 3 where Skynet (software program) spreads throughout the world infecting systems as it becomes self-aware, and it realizes that humans are a huge threat and must be eradicated.  Of course, this kind of AI logic seems ridiculous because we have emotions and we can distinguish right and wrong better because of it.  AI only see things in black and white so its decisions are absolute.

In the best case, some brilliant inventor will do the same thing but AI is friendly and have laws which say they can’t harm humans.  But wait a minute, didn’t we also see something like this in the movie called I ROBOT.  Robots in that movie were controlled by a central positronic brain known as V.I.K.I. or Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence.  That AI interpreted three laws that ensured human safety in a completely wrong way.  V.I.K.I. decided that humans had to be prevented from self harming behavior and it ends up that humans are harmed in the process.  That movie takes place in 2035.

Some think this singularity will be reached in 2029.  Ray Kurzweil, the director of the Singularity Institute has set this date.  That date will never come if steps are taken to ensure that humans are always on top.  The phrase “dreams become reality” will come true eventually if guidelines aren’t developed.  The point is, you can’t ignore the possibility of something like this happening now that the world is relying more and more on technology and amazing advances are being made all the time.

I guess you could become a neo-luddite which are people opposed to technological advances because they partially fear existential risks like the singularity scenario.  Society doesn’t work like that though.  People always want to get ahead and become better.  We can’t become better unless we create powerful A.I. to do what we cannot.

This may all sound frightening, so I will talk about my best case scenario here if all is unavoidable.  Okay so what happens when the technological singularity is reached.  Well, first it’s called the singularity because our model of the future breaks down once we surpass the upper limit on intelligence…just like our current model of physics breaks down when describing the center of a black hole in outer space.  Once we can create smarter than human intelligence, a snowballing effect occurs where smarter minds can produce even smarter minds.  The law of accelerating returns extends Moore’s law to describe an exponential growth pattern in technological progress.  Humans and machines will eventually blur in a computer based social structure of such complexity that no one person will be able to understand more than a tiny fraction of it all.

Qubit representation by a Bloch sphere

Ray Kurzweil states:

“An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense ‘intuitive linear’ view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate). The ‘returns,’ such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There’s even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to the Singularity—technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.”

Take some time and read the Wikipedia entry as well as this article on Yahoo about the Singularity Summit to get a bit more on this topic if you’re interested.  There are thousands of articles out there about this and it’s only going to get more interesting.

“The Singularity Summit: AI and the Future of Humanity” brought together hundreds of Silicon Valley techies and scientists to imagine a future of self-programming computers and brain implants that would allow humans to think at speeds nearing today’s microprocessors.

“Some critics have mocked singularists for their obsession with “techno-salvation…but advocates argue it would be irresponsible to ignore the possibility of dire outcomes.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070909/ap_on_hi_te/superintelligent_machines;_ylt=Ao85XrkUfCDoAWYd1mENipsjtBAF

Pictures from Kliman.com and Wikipedia.

 

The LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE YouTube video is revolting. September 12, 2007

Filed under: Britney Spears,Celebrities,Funny,Youtube — allyouneediscourage @ 11:52 pm

This is another sad day not because of some horrific event, it’s because of this guy in the most watched Youtube video at the moment called LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!  Somehow Britney Spears’ horrendous performance at the 2007 VMAs has spawned hundreds of news stories and blog entries including this one.  I didn’t think it would spur somebody to do a video like this.

His name is Chris Crocker which is very surprising because I actually thought that he was a SHE the first time I watched the video.  The voice sounds somewhat feminine and then there’s the makeup.  I noticed the mustache and that’s when I thought WHAT THE !@#$% IS THIS MONSTROSITY?  Lets face the facts here, everyone’s watching the video to get an uneasy laugh.  It’s funny but also revolting.  If you empathize with this guy, then I honestly don’t know how to respond to you.  I was speechless after watching this.

Remember Britney Spears from the VMAs back in 2003?

Britney Spears and Madonna kiss at 2003 VMAs

Remember Britney Spears from her Toxic video?

Britney Spears Toxic video screenshot

Remember Britney Spears from way back?

Britney Spears in a nice tight blue dress

Remember Britney Spears from the beginning?

Britney Spears Rolling Stone provocative cover shoot

Young Britney Spears laughing on the beach

 

9/11 Tribute in pictures – six years later September 11, 2007

Filed under: 9/11,9/11 Tribute,9/11/01 — allyouneediscourage @ 10:54 pm

9/11/2001

Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.

9/11 Tribute of Light with bridge in the foreground

Picture above from http://www.overshadowed.com/

9/11 Tribute of Light hits a cloud formation at night

I remember I was in high school as a sophomore when this happened, and the teachers shut off all the televisions and wouldn’t tell us what was going on.  Later in History, my teacher turned the TV in time to see both towers completely go up in smoke.  My father worked very close to the Twin Towers and luckily left the area before the collapses.  I just realized now that I’ve never even been up in the World Trade Center…

9/11 Tribute of Light a closer look at the spotlights

 

Funny cartoon of Michael Vick. Whoopi Goldberg defends him. September 6, 2007

Filed under: Celebrities,Football,Funny,Humor,Michael Vick — allyouneediscourage @ 7:25 pm

Great cartoon here of the Michael Vick issue.  I forgot where I found it but full credit to the artist.

Cartoon Michael Vick faces an all dog jury

Yesterday I saw this video, and it can be reasonably interpreted that Whoopi Goldberg is defending Michael Vick and not looking at him with the disdain that she should.

Here’s the quote from Whoopi Goldberg… 

“He’s from the South, from the Deep South … This is part of his cultural upbringing,”
“For a lot of people, dogs are sport,” Goldberg said on the show. “Instead of just saying (Vick) is a beast and he’s a monster, this is a kid who comes from a culture where this is not questioned.”

So what if there was a probability Michael Vick didn’t know it was wrong, it’s such a garbage excuse. That’s like saying I didn’t know it was wrong to go out and end someone’s life on Wednesday nights because in my hometown that’s culturally acceptable. Yeah dogfighting is probably still culturally acceptable down there but it’s not acceptable to the rest of society. They used to hang and own black people and that was acceptable in some areas, but it was not acceptable to the rest of the United States. Point being…Majority rules. The law rules. Case fuckin closed.

Michael Vick is getting such a hard rap because he’s supposed to be this nice football player that most people held in high regard. There might be some killers out there not getting the same kind of disdain and that’s because they are NOBODY. No one cares about them but people used to care about Michael Vick. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

After that video spread like wildfire, Whoopi realizes she just made a mistake and tries to rectify it by being completely unintelligible in this explanation video.

“…no one takes a minute to say…ok what exactly did you say?  Because no one’s written what I actually said.  You can’t go online and hear what I actually said.  People edited our…our uhhh clips” – Whoopi Goldberg making absolutely no sense.

“It’s very crafty of them,” says some random speaker on The View.

“There are people who hate blacks.  There are people who hate Jews.” – Barbara Walters

Nice one Barbara, I have no rebuttal to that.

 

Apple announces new iPod Nano, iPod Classic, and iPod Touch. September 5, 2007

Filed under: Apple,Gadgets,Technology — allyouneediscourage @ 3:25 pm

Meet the best iPods ever.

Apple officially unveiled three new stunning iPods today, September 5th 2007.

1.  First there’s the new fatty iPod Nano

 New Apple Nano

Sporting a new form factor, the new iPod Nano is smaller yet has a larger and brighter display and it plays video now.  It comes in 4GB and 8GB models with a starting price at just $149.

2.  The new 6th generation iPod dubbed iPod Classic

 New Apple iPod Classic

This is an evolution of the winning design that has brought more and more people to Apple.  It comes in 80GB and 160GB varieties with a starting price of $249 and $349 for the top end.  The interface is enhanced, there’s Cover Flow taken from the iPhone, and the design is sleeker and better than ever.

3.  Finally, the rumored touchscreen iPod called iPod Touch

New Apple iPod Touch

New Apple iPod Touch multiple angles

Here’s the big one.  Almost similar to the iPhone in everyway except it’s not a phone.  It sports the multi-touch interface from the iPhone, has the gorgeous 3.5 inch widescreen display, has Wi-Fi web browsing, you can download songs, and has 22 hours of battery life for music.  It comes in 8GB and 16GB versions at $299 and $399 respectively.  It is flash based and not hard drive based, but the 8mm thick hardware design is absolutely amazing.

Besides these three new models, there’s also the iPod Shuffle and Apple iPhone.

I’m definitely getting one of these.

ALL IMAGES ARE TAKEN FROM WWW.APPLE.COM