YouTube’s Video Pickers

YouTube’s AI vs. Charlotte Ritter of Babylon Berlin.

If you’ve seen any of the early episodes of the TV series Babylon Berlin, you might understand why I thought of the character Charlotte Ritter’s temp job as a photo reviewer at the Berlin police station when I first saw this article about YouTube’s AI helping the company pull down 6.5 million videos in Q1 2018.

YouTube said the videos were “mostly spam or people attempting to upload adult content.” (Another 1.5 videos were removed, but not before they had been seen by a few YouTube viewers.)

Before introducing AI into the review process, YouTube said it would take 10,000 people to review and remove such a volume of videos.

Why did this make me think of the character on Babylon Berlin?

Even though the series is set in 1929, Ritter has the exact same job as YouTube’s Artificial Intelligence.

(via recode)

Is Amazon Bad for the Postal Service? (Spoiler Alert: No)

The USPS has major problems, but the specific deal the USPS has with Amazon is a winning proposition for the Postal Service.

If you are reading this sometime in the future (say, anytime more recent than April 4, 2018), you may recall a week in 2018 when, as described by NYTimes.com reporter Nick Wingfield, “President Trump has pointed his Twitter arrows at Amazon over what he insists is a bad deal for the United States Postal Service.”

Trump, who, granted, is never a stickler for facts, has been blasting the U.S. Postal Service for the way they charge Amazon, “(that costs) the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy.”

While the details about the Amazon-USPS deal are not public, some of the available evidence suggests that Amazon has been a boon to the Postal Service.

As Hammock Inc. has managed, on behalf of our clients, the mailing of millions of individual magazines and other material during the past 27 years, I have been an interested observer of the challenges and woes the USPS has faced across that era.

Ten years ago, the USPS handled the shipment of 212 billion pieces of mail. Last year, that number had dropped to 149 billion. (Look in your email inbox or text message client and you’ll understand why.)

The reality is that the specific deal the USPS has with Amazon is a winning proposition for the Postal Service. Bloomberg has one of many articles that explain why.

The short version is this: While email has crushed snail mail, the business of package shipping, including Amazon orders, grew to 5.7 billion packages last year from 3.3 billion in 2008.

Several years ago, the Postal Service added Sunday delivery for Amazon packages. Do you think the USPS loses money on this? No way.

But there is no doubt that the USPS loses money — like $2.7 billion on revenues of $69.6 in revenues in its last fiscal year.

Moreover — and dating back as far as I can recall — the USPS faces mind-boggling obligations related to its retirement pension. In effect, it is bankrupt.

Most analysts view Amazon’s use of the USPS to ship its products as a boon for the service.

Quote from NYTimes.com:

“It is one thing to demand better financial performance from the U.S.P.S., but something very different, in our view, to equate the U.S.P.S. financial struggles with the rise of Amazon,” Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Baird, a stock research firm, wrote in a research report on Tuesday. “If nothing else, the U.S.P.S. was already generating billions of dollars in operating losses well before Amazon became a large customer.”

The Postal Service says all such deals it makes are profitable — and must be by law.

But in one of his tweet attacks, Mr. Trump seemed to dispute whether Amazon was covering the Postal Service’s costs, saying that “it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon.”

Where did Trump’s claim come from (other than his hatred of the Washington Post and, thus, its owner, Jeff Bezos.)? See Snopes.com.

Thoughts on Today’s Solar Eclipse (August 21, 2017)

 

(Update: Bottom of post.)


I keep forgetting. Am I supposed to stare at the sun until my eyeballs bleed? Or is it, poke holes in them with a pin?

(Notice: That was a satirical jab at the ubiquitous warnings not to stare at the sun. Do not attempt to stare at the sun or poke holes into your eyes. Don’t believe anything you read on the internet, either. Except, of course, when it concurs with something you already believe.)


How come so many people make reference to “total eclipse of the heart” when a better reference is “flew your lear jet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun.”


How to take a photo of the Eclipse: Wait until NASA takes photos and posts them on their website. Since NASA is funded by the federal government, such photos are public domain. So, you can *take* any photo they post and use it anyway you’d like.


In Nashville, the grocery stores were jammed up this morning — people looked like they were preparing for 1/2 inch of snow.

What’s going on, I asked someone.

Eclipse parties, they said.


Happy eclipse day. And don’t forget to stare at the sun, no wait, don’t forget not to do that.


Update (after the event.)

With the use of eclipse glasses I survived. I took a few bad photos during first few seconds of totality but then decided this should be a non-lens event.

I now know how a total eclipse is celebrated. People all over my neighborhood started cheering and a few even used up some July 4 fireworks. I even gave up a whoop or two.

Incredible is all I can say. Here are three photos from my backyard in Nashville.

A Statue of Robert E. Lee is NOT a Part of Who I Am | 2017

Update on a two-year-old post.

Two years ago, I wrote a blog post titled, “The Confederate Flag is NOT a Part of who I Am,” right after the horrific Charleston church murders. The title was from the response Lindsey Graham (at the time a candidate in the GOP presidential primary) gave when a reporter asked him why the confederate flag should continue to fly on the grounds of the South Carolina capital. “It’s a part of who we are,” he said, somewhat baffled.

Flash-forward to today and another hate-crazed neo-nazi-zealot attempts a mass murder, this time in Charlottesville, by plowing his car into a group of people protesting the spewed-hatred of white nationalists.

That earlier post seems sadly similar to what I may have written today. Even sadder and more tragic: Today we have a president who equates white nationalists with those who protest white nationalism.

Desperately looking for something positive I can say to end this post, I can only think of one way: Freed from being a GOP presidential primary candidate, Lindsey Graham now knows what the correct answer is when asked why people in the south should not wrap themselves up in confederate symbols.

When asked about the white nationalists, he did not hesitate to say, “Their cause is hate, it is un-American, they are domestic terrorists and we need more from our president,” Graham said.”

“This is an opportunity for the Trump administration to come down like a hammer on white supremacists,” Graham said. “And I hope they do.”