Saturday, May 26, 2018

A "Two Ronnies" joke has lost its punchline


I guess it's no worse than having garden gnomes.

House built on sand


Bunker struck amidships in the last torpedo salvo
Taking on sand and sinking fast
This is last transmission
God save the King

Thursday, May 24, 2018

This town is so cultured...

Even the tagging is in classical Greek.



Just steer clear of the Maenad crew on a Friday night after they have been touring the booze-barns, unless you want to be on the blunt end of a thyrsos, is all I'm saying.

Next there will be "Titans rule, Olympians drool" graffiti popping up, and shit will get real.

With hardened smiles and evil signs

According to the sticker, what I believed to be a clothes drier is actually an appliance intended for burning books.

I have no idea why the Frau Doktorin reacted so badly.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Straw-man seeks Brain, and vice versa:
A new model of memory in spherical cows falling in vacuum

In the arena of Brain Learning (as opposed to kidney memories), the Paradigms are Shifting again! Fortunately we have fitted them with a tracker beacon so it is easy to find their new location.

It is immediately clear that Sardi et al.'s new Dendritic, non-synaptic paradigm of memory acquisition was inspired by the Codex Seraphinianus:



The paper is written in first person despite having six authors. The first-person "I" appears to be Prof. Ido Kanter, a reincarnation of Copernicus, who even remembers Copernicus' unrecorded thoughts.

It does not present any data, or any novel hypothesis... the paper is best understood as a paid advertisement for an earlier publication by the same group which did have a hypothesis and a lot of hand-wavy computer simulations, also some results from new types of experiment on vat-grown brains neuron-like cells onna plate, as the old-fashioned methods of neuroscience were not fit for the authors' purpose.


All becomes clear when we examine a press release for that earlier publication and discover that Prof. Kanter is a physicist. Stand back, neuroscientists! Here is a physicist, to explain how you have been neurosciencing wrong all these past seven decades!


The press release is a small masterpiece of dumbing-down, combined with imprecision, hubris, profound ignorance of the "century-old assumption" that the author intends to topple, and a grim determination to be not even wrong. By the second sentence, it has managed to overestimate the number of neurons by more than a factor of 10, which by the standards of physics is just experimental error:
Their number is approximately one Tera (trillion), similar to Tera-bits in midsize hard discs.
Towards the end it climbs to new heights of bafflegab:
The new results call for a re-examination of neuronal functionalities beyond the traditional framework and, in particular, for an examination into the origin of degenerative diseases. Neurons which are incapable of differentiating between "left" and "right"—similar to distortions in the entire human body—might be a starting point for discovering the origin of these diseases.
Neuroskeptic noted "the problem with dendritic learning as an exclusive mechanism of learning" (compared to the old pre-shift paradigm of post-synaptic modification learning)
...is that it leaves each neuron with only two or three ‘degrees’ of information capacity.
A neuron can have thousands of synapses and if they are all independent, that’s a lot of potential information storage. Whereas if plasticity is confined to the primary dendrites, this massively reduces the information capacity of each neuron.
[See also S. Clyde, two months ago]
From the Physicist perspective, this stark simplicity is Feature not Bug... an index of how Nature should work, if only a physicist had been in charge of the design. If Kanter were right, Evolution would have been negligent by missing the opportunity to store information ('memories") in the medium of synaptic changes...
Clear out your desk, Evolution, you are fired.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Today in Right-wing / Truther rhetoric

FreedomQuotes: “If you’re not catching flak you’re not over the target”
This apparently originated from WWII bomber pilots.

They could tell when they were over the target
when they could see, hear and feel the flak.
The history of the self-congratulatory cliche suggests that this retconned origin myth is bollocks.

I'm going to be all radical and contrarian and counter-intuitive here, with the suggestions that
(a)  if you're catching flak it's because you strayed within range of an anti-aircraft battery; and
(b) if people are laughing at you, it's because you said something stupid.